The basic facts of the scandal involving President Donald Trump and his conduct toward the Ukrainian government earlier this year aren't in dispute. Trump has admitted to pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch a corruption investigation into former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter. He has admitted to ordering officials to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid from Ukraine days before a July phone call with Zelenksy. The White House has released a partial record of that call, in which Zelensky mentions the aid and Trump immediately responds, "I would like you to do us a favor though."
These facts have been further substantiated by a formal complaint filed by a whistleblower in August and made public last month, and by a series of text messages between Trump administration officials and Ukrainian diplomats released by congressional Democrats last week.
Pressed by reporters in Denver today, October 10, Colorado Senator Cory Gardner repeatedly declined to comment on whether Trump's conduct was appropriate, instead bashing Democrats' formal impeachment inquiry as a "very partisan, partisanized effort," and saying he would withhold judgment until he gets "all the facts, all the information." He did not specify what kind of additional information he's waiting on.
A first-term senator widely viewed as the single most vulnerable Senate Republican in the 2020 election, Gardner is highly practiced in the art of evading questions he'd rather not answer. But this bravura performance may top them all, and deserves to be appreciated in its full, unedited glory. Here's the video from FOX31 Denver:
Here's a transcript of the two-minute exchange:
Joe St. George, FOX31: Senator as you know impeachment's on the minds of a lot of people. You've called it a "partisan circus." But I haven't heard you answer this question: Do you believe it's appropriate for the President of the United States to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political rival? Yes or no?
Gardner: Well, look, this is what we're going to get into. The Senate Intelligence Committee is having an investigation, a bipartisan investigation, Unfortunately, though, what we've seen is a very political process take over. If you look at what Al Green in Texas, [a] member of Congress has said — We need to impeach President Trump now, because we might not be able to beat him in November. That's about politics. That's not what a the serious investigation should be about.
St. George: But is it appropriate —
Gardner: Joe, I've answered your question.
St. George: No, you didn't.
Gardner: Okay. Next question.
Anusha Roy, 9News: Is it a yes or a no?
Gardner: Well, here's what we see in the House of Representatives. You see a very partisan process taking place. Why is it, that when you all do stories or we see reports in the news, it's about four states — Colorado, Arizona, Maine and North Carolina? It seems to be about politics and elections, other than the serious process that it is.
Roy: But the question is, is it appropriate for a president —
Gardner: Look, I think we're going to have an investigation, and it's a nonpartisan investigation.
Roy: But, Senator —
Gardner: It's a nonpartisan investigation.
Roy: It's a yes or no question.
Gardner: It's an answer that you get from a very serious investigation.
Reporter: But, Senator, would you be okay with it if it were a Democrat asking a foreign government —
Gardner: Look, here's what we're doing. What we saw immediately was a jump to a very partisan, very partisan, serious use of a tool in the Constitution. This is about an investigation that's taking place through the Senate Intelligence Committee. That's where it should be. What we've seen from the House of Representatives and Nancy Pelosi is a very partisan, partisanized effort.
Why other — what other reason do you have to cover four states every time you do a story on this? It's about Colorado, it's about California [sic], it's about North Carolina, and Arizona. That's what you're saying over and over again in all these stories.
St. George: Is it okay for you to —
Gardner: So this is a serious time, a very serious investigation. Let's have that investigation.
St. George: Is it okay for you to ask a foreign —
Gardner: You know what I've said before. You know what I've said before. This is about —
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St. George: But you're not answering the question.
Gardner: I — look —
St. George: We want to hear from you. You're a smart guy. You know the debate.
Gardner: This is about the politics of the moment, and that's why they're trying to do this now.