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Rep. Chris Stewart: ‘Take a breath’ over Trump call with Ukraine leader

Democrats need to pump the brakes on impeachment calls, he says

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, talks with a student while campaigning at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Oct 16, 2018.
FILE - Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, talks with a student while campaigning at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Oct 16, 2018.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Democrats need to pump the brakes on calling for impeachment of President Donald Trump over his July telephone call with the president of Ukraine that prompted a controversial whistleblower complaint, Rep. Chris Stewart said Monday.

The Utah Republican likened the fervor to Democrats last week wanting to impeach U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after a New York Times story about new accusations of sexual misconduct in his college days that the alleged victim doesn’t recall.

“The fact is we don’t know what happened here,” Stewart said on Fox News of Trump’s conversation with new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “Adam Schiff doesn’t know. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t know. The 87 Democrats running for president don’t know.”

Democrats, Stewart said, have no credibility on the latest uproar.

“I just think it’s fair to take a breath and say let’s just find out the facts and see what happens,” he said.

Meantime, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said the transcript of the phone call and the whistleblower’s complaint should be made public.

Trump said Sunday that he had openly raised accusations of corruption against former vice president and 2020 candidate Joe Biden during the call with Zelensky. He said the phone call was “congratulatory” and that “corruption” of Biden was discussed.

Stewart, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump was “pretty clear” that nothing improper was said in the conversation.

“He didn’t have a quid pro quo. He had no promises,” Stewart said.

Stewart told the Washington Post last week that he was not only “concerned” that Congress had not received the whistleblower’s complaint, but he thought it was possible Republicans would join Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, in subpoenaing the records if the acting national intelligence director continues to withhold them.

Romney tweeted Sunday that disclosure of what Trump told the Ukrainian president is “critical” following the whistleblower’s complaint. He said if the president asked or pressured Zelensky to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be “troubling in the extreme.”

“It’s very much, I believe, in the public interest to get this resolved and to be able to move on,” Romney told NBC News’ Geoff Bennett. “Given the seriousness of the allegations, it’s very important that the transcript and potentially, as well, the whistleblower come forward.”

Bennett tweeted that Romney said Trump “should make available the whistleblower complaint that has been deemed to be credible and urgent. I think it’d be very helpful to get the bottom of the facts. If they don’t, it will be up to the House to decide how to proceed.”

Trump on Monday evening, without further comment, tweeted a video montage he has shared in the past of clips showing Romney losing the 2012 presidential election and Trump winning the 2016 election. The video included a 2016 clip of Trump saying, “That was a race, I have to say, folks, that should have been won,” in reference to Romney’s 2012 run.

White House officials Monday were considering releasing a transcript of the call, according to CNN.

Democrats, including Biden, have called for a House investigation.

“Can you imagine putting Vice President Biden on the stand and asking him what his involvement is with interfering in this investigation in the Ukraine?” Stewart said. “I imagine it’s the last thing in the world that he wants to do.”

Schiff, D-Calif., said on CNN on Sunday that impeachment may be “the only remedy” if it’s true that Trump pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden. House Speaker Pelosi, D-Calif, has resisted impeachment hearings, though Democrats have turned up the heat another notch.

“She’s not a fool,” Stewart said, adding the speaker understands the political implications of impeachment and what it would do to her ability to lead.