Former Republican lawmakers tell current GOP: Consider full evidence on impeachment

William Cohen, a former Republican senator from Maine and secretary of defense who backed impeachment during the Watergate inquiry, told CNN's Erin Burnett that members of the GOP have a duty to look at the evidence against President Trump in the impeachment inquiry.

Posted: Dec 10, 2019 12:10 PM
Updated: Dec 10, 2019 12:10 PM

Two former Republican lawmakers urged their current successors to consider the evidence produced during the inquiry into President Donald Trump's Ukraine dealings in determining whether to support impeachment.

William Cohen, a former Republican senator from Maine and secretary of defense who backed impeachment during the Watergate inquiry, and Slade Gorton, a former Washington state Republican senator and attorney general who also backed President Richard Nixon's impeachment, made the comments on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" Friday evening.

Their counsel comes on the same day that Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan independent who left the Republican Party this summer, announced that he would support impeachment articles against Trump -- the first lawmaker to do so who is not a Democrat.

"I would say, listen to the witnesses," Cohen replied when asked what he thought of Republicans dismissing the probe as a sham. "Listen to the professionals who came before the Congress to swear under oath."

"You're saying that all those people who came before the committee are lying under oath," Cohen said, urging lawmakers "to go back and look at the entire spectrum from the Mueller report. There's a pattern here of (Trump) saying, 'I'm not beholden to anyone.' "

Gorton said he felt "sorry for the people who are tying themselves so heavily to the President at this point," adding that "they should be waiting to hear all of the facts."

"I think it's very easy for them to determine that the President did this, did what he's accused of," he said, adding that "it's one thing to say, we don't think that arises to the importance to take a man out of the presidential office. It's quite another to denounce it in advance when you don't know what there's going to be presented to you."

Gorton, while criticizing Democrats for failing to attract bipartisan support, also highlighted the potential power of public opinion in convincing Republicans to back impeachment.

"If public opinion swings towards favoring getting rid of the President there will be Republican senators who will reflect on that," he said. "It's not there at this point, but that's a very real possibility. It's unfortunate that the Democrats who are running this system so far haven't tried to appeal as broadly as is necessary for that, but they may -- I think it's an open question."

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