Democrats running for U.S. Senate back impeachment inquiry, take on Cornyn

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This weekend, five Democratic Senate hopefuls attending a panel at the Texas Tribune Festival said they all agreed with the decision by Congress to launch a formal impeachment investigation into President Trump’s actions involving Ukraine. 

Air Force veteran MJ Hegar, Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards, and state Sen. Royce West said they supported the congressional investigation, but added that they needed all the facts before voting for impeachment. “Quite frankly, I’m not sure anyone should be saying they would vote for impeachment or would approve that without seeing the evidence,” Hegar said. 

Organizer Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez went a step further— she said she’s ready to vote for impeachment and believed the rough transcript released by the White House this week was enough evidence to remove the president from office. 

In the transcript of a July conversation between President Trump and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump is shown asking the newly elected Ukranian leader to investigate a domestic political rival, Joe Biden. A recently released whistleblower complaint filed by an unidentified intelligence official last month corroborates some of the problematic discussions seen in the White House transcript. 

While much of the discussion on Saturday was centered on Trump, many also condemned Sen. John Cornyn for his support of the president during the tumultuous scandal. 

Since House Democrats announced their impeachment inquiry this week, Cornyn has described their efforts as re-litigating the 2016 election. “They should be embarrassed by what they have done,” said Cornyn on the Senate floor earlier this week. Earlier in the week he said he was scratching his head as to why the “House’s hair is on fire.” 

“One of the main reasons I’m running is because we have a senator who’s a waterboy for [Trump’s] disastrous presidency,” said former Rep. Chris Bell, saying he absolutely agreed with the inquiry. And this week Cornyn has been “delivering up water in barrels,” he said. Bell has supported impeachment well before the explosive events of this week. 

“Many of the Senators are complicit. They sit idly by and say nothing,” West said at the panel. “Cornyn has served on the Supreme Court here in the state of Texas, he served as Attorney General, he says nothing at all and says it’s all about politics.”

On gun violence, many candidates took Cornyn to the woodshed for his lack of action on legislation to help prevent mass shootings. 

As the panel’s moderator pointed out, none of the Democrats running are well known statewide. But polls show Cornyn’s support in Texas is soft. 

For years, public policy panels on health care at the Texas Tribune Festival addressed Texas having the highest uninsured rate in the nation. The senate panel on Saturday was no exception.

“I believe we cannot afford to debate this topic for years,” said Edwards. “We cannot afford to wait. We have to expand the Affordable Care Act and help fix it… People should not have to pay higher premiums.”

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