Rep. Mark Amodei became the first Republican in the House of Representatives to publicly support the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. But the lawmaker from Nevada fell way short of actually backing impeachment, only saying that the inquiry should move forward. “Let’s put it through the process and see what happens,” Amodei said in a phone call with local reporters. “I’m a big fan of oversight, so let’s let the committees get to work and see where it goes.”
During the call, Amodei said he read the whistleblower complaint regarding the July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “Using government agencies to, if it’s proven, to put your finger on the scale of an election, I don’t think that’s right,” he said. “If it turns out that it’s something along those lines, then there’s a problem.” Amodei didn’t say whether Trump committed an impeachable offense, although he did say he was not a fan of the president’s comments in the call. “If it was my statement and I had the ability to do it over, I would probably phrase it differently,” he said. “I don’t know that it’s a smoking gun.”
After the reports on the call, Amodei tried to walk back a bit, saying that those who were interpreting his words to mean that he backed impeaching the president were taking a huge leap. Anyone who “thinks that somehow there is a vote to convict before the process has played out—as called for by the resolution unanimously supported by everyone concerned – is simply, individual fantasy,” Amodei said in a statement. He also said he now has “a full appreciation of how the president feels,” presumably a reference to Trump’s criticism of the media.
Yet despite Amodei’s efforts to play down his own words, some were quick to point out that his words really put him on the same boat as many Democrats who support the impeachment inquiry without actually having decided whether Trump should be impeached. “That’s a big deal,” Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut said of Amodei’s support for the inquiry.