'Inappropriate,' but not impeachable: GOP lawmaker on Trump's actions

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, is interviewed on "This Week."
6:13 | 11/10/19

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Transcript for 'Inappropriate,' but not impeachable: GOP lawmaker on Trump's actions
There are perfectly appropriate quid pro quos and there are inappropriate quid pro quos. Any time that anyone talks to the president he has been very clear, there's no linkage, there's no quid pro quo. What I can tell you about the trump policy toward the Ukraine it was incoherent. It depends on who you talk to. They seem to be incapable of forming a quid pro quo. Some of the Republican defense of the president this week. Let's bring in congressman, Mac Thornberry. Congressman Thornberry, you heard congresswoman Speier lay out the process. Republicans have criticized the process. What's the Republican strategy to combat the substance of the allegations? Well, you started out, Martha, by saying how did we get here. Let me add a couple things to that. I think it's important to remember shortly after president trump was inaugurated there were Democrats who were calling for him to be impeached because they were so surprised of the results of the last election. We've had two and a half years of investigations, subpoenas, the Mueller report. All of a sudden in September the whistle-blower comes forward and says there's this conversation that I worried about. All of that two and a half years of investigation gets swept aside. Now the Democrats put all their eggs in this one basket. The problem is they started this basket not with the Nixon and Clinton precedents as far as making sure there was appropriate transparency and due process. They have made it one sided from the beginning, very partisan. So I think whatever happens now there will be a taint to this one-sided, partisan approach to impeachment that is different than has been used before. I think there will be intense skepticism about whatever they come up with. Again, they don't like -- Congressman, we -- They don't let the witnesses come. It has been one-sided from the beginning. Congressman, you're again talking about the process. I asked you about substance. How do you fend against the substance? Well, as you know -- maybe you know, Martha -- I believe it's inappropriate for a president to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political rival. Now that leads to a question if there's a political rival with a family member involved in questionable activity, what do you do? Just let them alone. Set that aside. I believe it was inappropriate. I don't believe it was impeachable. You know, y'all always want to say substance, not process. There's a reason we let murderers and robbers and rapists go free when their due process rights have been violated. We believe the integrity of the system, the integrity of the constitution, the integrity of the process of our legal system is more important than the outcome of one particular case. I don't think you can sweep process under the rug because it's part of an impeachment decision which has a constitutional requirement, bribery, treason, high crimes and misdemeanors, but also a political element whether it's good for the country to pursue it under these circumstances. Why is what you have seen not a clear abuse of power? I know you said it's inappropriate, his remarks, but not impeachable. Why is what you've seen in the transcript of that phone call which you discussed, not a clear abuse of power or bribery, not impeachable? You're right, the constitution is very specific. Bribery, treason, high crimes and misdemeanors, which basically means felonies. That's what you have to prove as a threshold question. The second question is under the circumstances do you believe it's good for the country to proceed with impeachment. I would suggest a couple circumstances are relevant here. Number one, there's not anything that the president said that's different than what he says in public all the time. Is there some sort of abuse of power that rises to that threshold that is different than what the American people have been hearing for three years? I don't hear that. Secondly we have an election coming up. Doing it at this time -- and make no mistake, the Democrats are rushing this through by Christmas so they don't interfere with their candidates being in Iowa and New Hampshire next year. Everything they got out there, fine -- Let me ask you quickly, sir. Let the American people decide this. Do you believe the whistle-blower should testify and do you believe hunter Biden should testify? I have not been in the room for all -- like most members of congress I've not been in the room for all these hearings and secret proceedings. I don't really know who the proper witnesses ought to be. I think what Jackie Speier said is right, the whistle-blower basically has third-hand information. So not necessary? I don't know to what extent -- I don't know to what extent he or she may have information that relates to other people's information. I can't make that call. I think it's got to be the people in the room who make the call, but, again, there has to be a fair way to arbitrate to decide who the witnesses are. We've had none of that so far. Thanks very much for joining us this morning congressman Thornberry. Up next my exclusive

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