This article, GOP senators up for reelection in 2020 and the impeachment inquiry, originally appeared on CBSNews.com
When the Senate comes back into session this week, senators on both sides of the aisle facing reelection for 2020 will be watched closely for how they respond to President Trump's attempts to coax foreign leaders to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden and what they decide to do should Mr. Trump be impeached by the House.
If the House impeaches him, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he would have "no choice" but to take up impeachment proceedings in the Senate. In that case, the Senate would be expected to vote on whether to remove Mr. Trump from the presidency. Removal requires the support of two-thirds of the Senate — 67 senators. There are currently 53 Republican senators and 45 Democrats, plus two independents who caucus with Democrats.
None of the GOP senators have supported impeachment proceedings, but many have stated their position on Mr. Trump's phone call with the Ukrainian president and his offhand request for China to open an investigation, as well as the launch of the impeachment inquiry by House Democrats.
Below, CBS News has compiled the incumbent response so far since the impeachment inquiry was launched.
CALLING ON CHINA TO INVESTIGATE BIDEN FAMILY IS INAPPROPRIATE
Maine Senator Susan Collins told the Bangor Daily News, "I thought the president made a big mistake by asking China to get involved in investigating a political opponent," and added, "It's completely inappropriate." In early October, President Trump told reporters at the White House that "China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine."
The senator was unequivocal in her comments about Mr. Trump's remarks to reporters regarding China and the Bidens, but she was less critical of his comments in the with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
According to the summary, Mr. Trump discussed the Ukrainian prosecutor who had been investigating Burisma — Hunter Biden served on the board of the Ukrainian energy company. "There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. So whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it...It sounds horrible to me." There has been no evidence presented that Biden or his son broke any laws.
Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, who is less vulnerable in his reelection bid than Collins is and has more room to criticize the president, provided The Omaha World-Herald with a written statement saying, "If the Biden kid broke laws by selling his name to Beijing, that's a matter for American courts, not communist tyrants running torture camps."
After reading the whistleblower report, Sasse told reporters, "Republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons and say there's no 'there' there when there's obviously a lot that's very troubling there, and Democrats ought not be using words like 'impeach' before they knew anything about the actual substance."
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham told Spartanburg, South Carolina CBS affiliate WSPA he had no problem with the president discussing investigating corruption with Ukraine, but he said it was mistake to ask China to investigate. He said, "I'm OK with what the president did. I don't think he did anything wrong talking to the Ukraine 'cause we give them money and aid. I think it was wrong to ask China to investigate. I don't trust China to be fair to anybody Trump, me, or you. So that was a mistake."
GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF THE FACTS ON UKRAINE
Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, who is one of the Democrats' top targets next November, released a statement saying, "I joined my Senate colleagues in unanimously supporting the release of the whistleblower report, and I support the Senate Intelligence Committee's ongoing bipartisan review to gather all of the facts," adding that the impeachment inquiry would "sharply divide the country." In a gaggle with reporters in early October, he refused to answer whether or not it is appropriate to ask a foreign government to investigate a political rival in a domestic election.
PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT ALONE SHOWS NO IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE
Sen. John Cornyn from Texas, after reading the whistleblower report and the partial transcript of the call with the Ukrainian president, said, "I wouldn't certainly wouldn't have said it the way the president said it, but it certainly doesn't rise to the level of impeachment. It's not a high crime and misdemeanor and it's — it shows how desperate and how politically driven with this whole, whole thing is."
— Alan He
Arizona Sen. Martha McSally told Politico that the Democrats' impeachment inquiry puts them "on a path to re-elect the president, keep the Senate majority [Republican] and possibly flip the House. It's a total distraction."
During the October recess, McSally attended an event with Vice President Mike Pence during which he was asked about the president's request to foreign countries to investigate corruption. Pence said, "I think the American people have a right to know if the vice president of the United States or his family profited from his position as Vice President during the last administration." McSally did not add to his response.
Iowa Senator Joni Ernst told reporters after a town hall last week that based on the whistleblower complaint and partial transcript alone, she did not see enough there to condemn the president, but she said the Senate will work in a bipartisan way to get to the bottom of the facts related to Ukraine. She also said the whistleblower who came forward with the information should be protected.
Senator Thom Tillis from North Carolina said in a statement after the release of the partial transcript of the Ukraine call that, "Nancy Pelosi should be embarrassed. The transcript debunks the Democrats' false claims against President Trump and demonstrates that their call to impeach him is a total farce. This is yet another pathetic attempt by Democrats to destroy President Trump with falsehoods to overturn the results of the 2016 election. It has not worked in the past, and it will not work now."
Other Republicans up for reelection in redder states said impeachment goes too far. This group includes West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, Montana Senator Steve Daines, Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde Smith, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, Georgia Senator David Perdue, South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds, Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan, and Idaho Senator Jim Risch.
DEMOCRATS FROM BATTLEGROUNDS ON IMPEACHMENT
In addition to the 19 Republican senators up for reelection, there are also four Democratic senators who are up for reelection in 2020 who mostly sound a little more cautious than some of their fellow Democrats on the subject of the impeachment inquiry. Here's what they've said on the subject:
Alabama Senator Doug Jones said on the Senate floor before the fall recess that Democrats should be careful about impeachment. In his speech, he said, "Our duties to discharge that office [of senator] are to be fair, to be impartial, to be deliberative, not political," Jones said. "Our duties to this office are to our constituents, to do the very best that we can in making sure that we analyze whatever is in front of us because history will judge us. They will determine whether or not we acted with courage and conviction or whether we just simply tested the political winds, as some people are already doing."
Minnesota Senator Tina Smith said in a statement that she supports impeachment proceedings. She said, "I support the House beginning impeachment proceedings, as a matter of national security, and protecting the rule of law and our Constitution. Amid reports that the President asked or even actively pressured Ukraine, a foreign government, to interfere in our country's democracy by undermining a political opponent, we must fully and fairly open a process to lay out all the facts."
New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen did not go as far as to call for impeachment in her statement about the president's call with the Ukrainian president. She said, "I think it raises very serious concerns about what the President has done and about the potential for a cover-up and that's why we need the facts to come out and the American people need to see what happened," Shaheen said. "We need to hear from people who know what happened inside the White House."
Michigan Senator Gary Peters similarly wants to gather the facts first, and did not raise impeachment as a solution. In a statement, he said, "When you have the president, in his own words asking another foreign leader for help in an election, getting his assistance, a foreign government assisting him here in the United States, it is clearly wrong, but I think it is important to look at all of the facts and bring all of the facts together."