California Rep. Ro Khanna says impeachment vote likely before end of 2019 originally appeared on abcnews.go.com
Khanna told ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast that while he, along with other House Democrats, believe the impeachment inquiry could be finished as early as Thanksgiving, the ideal goal is to have it wrapped before the Iowa caucuses in February.
"We want to get it done, and then the Judiciary Committee will refer the articles to the House (for a vote)," Khanna, a member of the House Oversight Committee, told ABC News Political Director Rick Klein.
The inquiry, launched Sept. 24 by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, began after reports that a whistleblower had filed a complaint expressing national security concerns regarding a July phone call Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The White House released a transcript of the call on Sept. 25, corroborating information found in the whistleblower's complaint.
Echoing other lawmakers' push for an inquiry that is expeditious and focused, Khanna said lawmakers can't continue "throwing the kitchen sink" at the president if they want the American people to respect the process.
The information in the call was "an abuse of office and we can't tolerate a compromise of our national security, and if we get the facts and we wrap it up before this year, then I think people will say the 'Democrats are standing up for the Constitution, they're standing up for our values and we'll respect that'," Khanna said. "But I do think the way we conduct ourselves is going to matter."
Many Democrats, and even former Trump officials, reacted negatively to the questions Trump proposed in the call with Zelenskiy.
Khanna supported the decision of some more moderate Democrats, those who won seats in the districts Trump won in 2016, to risk their seats in Congress in support of the inquiry. He also said Democrats are for the most part united in their belief that the president has to be held accountable. That call will be the main focus during the inquiry, and beyond.
"That in itself is an abuse of his office," the congressman said. "He's admitted that. He's bragged about doing that and it's unconstitutional."
As the controversy takes more twists and turns, including Trump's involvement of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr, Khanna left the door open to other charges against the president and members of his cabinet.
"It implicates possibly Pompeo -- What did he know? Why didn't he act? Is he preventing State Department officials from testifying?... Were there other phone calls?" Khanna, a member of the House Oversight Committee, asked.
Pompeo confirmed Wednesday that he was on the call, despite having dodged questions about the contents of the whistleblower complaint Sept. 22 on ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." On Monday, Pompeo also accused three House chairmen of trying to "intimidate, bully and treat improperly" five State Department officials called on to provide depositions.
Khanna argued it was instead Pompeo trying to intimidate the witnesses to keep them from cooperating and said Democrats will continue to push for them to testify.
He warned them to be cautious though, as they don't have the same protections as the president.
"We don't -- we're very reluctant to prosecute presidents of the United States. The same doesn't apply to Cabinet secretaries," he said. "So I think they have to be very careful."