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GOP presidential candidates debate impeachment approach

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, left, and former

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, left, and former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford are challenging Trump for the GOP nomination. Credit: AP photos

Two Republicans waging a long shot bid for president against Donald Trump differed Sunday on the approach Congress should take toward impeachment, with former Rep. Joe Walsh calling Trump a "traitor," and former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford arguing for an "incremental" approach.

The House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry is focused on a July 25 phone call in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to cooperate with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani's push for an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and son, Hunter, days after the U.S. suspended nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine.

Both Sanford and Walsh appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday in a split-screen quasi-debate.

Asked Sunday if he would vote to support an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, Mark Sanford, a former South Carolina governor and congressman, told CNN's Jake Tapper: "I don't know. I suspect so." 

He said a congressional "censure" was likely the best option given "the fact that we're this close to an election," but he said he would want the president's actions investigated.

But Walsh, a one-term Congressman from Illinois, said "this president deserves to be impeached."

"Donald Trump is a traitor," Walsh said. "This president needs to be impeached ... just based on what he himself has said, and Republicans better get behind that."

On Thursday, Trump told reporters outside the White House that "China should start an investigation into the Bidens."

Sanford said the House of Representatives should first launch a vote to start the impeachment inquiry.

"The nature of a process is not to come to the conclusion at the beginning of it," Sanford said. "For people to just step out and say he needs to be impeached, is to actually diminish and discard with the very process that's laid out by the Founding Fathers."

He continued, "I do think we ought to be incremental. Are there very troubling charges out there? Yes. Do they need to be investigated? Yes. But to jump to conclusions, say he needs to be impeached, what he's done is treasonous, is to say we're not going to go through the very process that the Founding Fathers laid out."

Sanford, Walsh, and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, all Republicans, have announced challenges to Trump this year.

Asked if the candidates would support Trump if he were the Republican nominee in 2020, and if former Vice President Joseph Biden were the Democratic nominee, Sanford said, "I don't know."

"I'm an issue guy," he said, noting his concern about the debt, deficit and government spending.

But Walsh said he believed Trump represented a "clear and present danger to this country." Walsh added there was "no way in hell" he would vote for Trump in November 2020.

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