December 16, 2019, 15:18

Freshman Democrat says evidence from Trump’s Ukraine call ‘is so damning’

Freshman Democrat says evidence from Trump’s Ukraine call ‘is so damning’

Representative Dean Phillips, a freshman Democrat from Minnesota, says the evidence is “so damning” that he had no choice but to support the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. President Trump.

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“To be forthright, it’s damning. It confirms what we have suspected over the last couple days, in writing and in the president’s own words,” Phillips said. “He has betrayed the public trust, betrayed American interests, betrayed his oath of office, and it requires action,” Phillips told host Rick Klein on Powerhouse Politics Podcast.

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP, FILE

In this Jan. 29, 2018, file photo, Rep. Dean Phillips participates in the news conference with other freshmen to announce the "Shutdown to End All Shutdowns (SEAS) Act," in Washington.

The Minnesota Democrat said the transcript convinced him to go further after he initially endorsed an impeachment inquiry earlier this week. He said the telephone call shows that the president of Ukraine references an interest in buying missiles from the U.S. and that while hundreds of millions of dollars were held in the balance, the president’s next question is asking for a favor.

(MORE: Trump urged Ukraine to work with Barr and Giuliani to probe Biden: Call transcript)

“And the president of the United States above all else should recognize that there’s always an implicit quid pro quo when a favor is asked,” said Phillips.

The freshman Congressman said, on his flight back to Washington, D.C., when he had two hours to himself, that he changed his mind as he read everything available.

“My initial reaction is that I had started to cross the threshold. That was clear in black and white, and it corroborated with evidence that is now sitting in front of me, at this very moment, requires immediate action.”

Phillips said he ran on a platform in Minnesota in 2018 on cleaning up corruption. He has said that he does not want to contribute to the deep divide in this country or his district.

“I come from a district that is engaged, thoughtful, both Republicans, Democrats — Independents and Libertarians. And they recognize that the Constitution and the rule of law transcends everything and everybody, including me. And my belief is that, in light of this new evidence and I believe more is yet to come, that most Americans will understand the gravity of these practiced allegations. And recognize that we have a constitutional duty to do what’s right.”

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy shake hands during a meeting in New York on Sept. 25, 2019.

(MORE: The evidence in front of me ‘is so damning’: Rep. Dean Phillips)

Phillips also wants the impeachment process put on a fast track. “I believe it can, and should be done much more expeditiously than even the end of the year. I, for one, would be disappointed, if in light of what was released this morning, if it takes longer than the end of the year.”

Is he worried about losing his seat in Congress by supporting impeachment which some political experts say will fire up President Trump’s Republican base?

“I can tell you having had conversations with just about every one of my colleagues, each and every one of us would be willing to lose our jobs in favor of upholding our oath to office and protecting and preserving our Constitution. That’s what we’re here for and that’s why we ran.”

Powerhouse Politics podcast is a weekly program that posts every Wednesday and includes headliner interviews and in-depth looks at the people and events shaping U.S. politics. Powerhouse Politics podcast is hosted by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and ABC News Political Director Rick Klein.


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