WASHINGTON — Moderate Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi on Tuesday joined the growing chorus of House Democrats for an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, saying, “I have not made this decision lightly.”
Also coming out Tuesday for the inquiry was Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), who represents a slice of Nassau County. He said on CNN that he had changed his mind because Trump had exercised “clear abuse of power.”
Both Suozzi, of Glen Cove, and Meeks dropped their resistance to an inquiry before a meeting of the full Democratic caucus Tuesday afternoon called by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to discuss the impeachment process.
Now all Democrats in the Long Island delegation back the inquiry — Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) announced her support in May after Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report came out. Republicans Rep. Peter King of Seaford and Rep. Lee Zeldin of Shirley oppose impeachment.
Suozzi said he had long resisted calls for opening an impeachment inquiry, citing the cautionary examples of the Nixon and Clinton impeachments. He said impeaching Trump would divide the country, boost Trump’s base and fail in the Republican-controlled Senate.
But Suozzi changed his mind after the recent emergence of an intelligence officer’s whistleblower complaint that has led to Trump admitting he urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden and his family.
Suozzi also cited Trump’s refusal to turn over that complaint to Congress after an intelligence community inspector general found it be “credible” and “urgent,” a status that he said the law requires Trump share it with lawmakers.
“Inaction would give this president (and future presidents) assurances that their misdeeds are immune from punishment,” Suozzi wrote on his Facebook page. “I believe that it is my Constitutional duty and the duty of the United States Congress to move forward with impeachment inquiries.”
A total of 156 of the 235 Democrats in the House support an impeachment inquiry as of Tuesday midday, CNN reported.
Rice said her constituents are for it, too.
“My office has gotten hundreds of calls from #NY04 constituents telling me they support impeachment because they're worried about the precedent we'd set for our country if Trump isn't held accountable,” Rice said Tuesday in a Twitter post. “They're completely right. We need to begin impeachment proceedings immediately.”
King dismissed the whistleblower complaint as a third-hand interpretation and said there’s “nothing there yet.” He defended Trump’s suspension of funds for Ukraine because of concerns about corruption.
Zeldin said in a statement, “Democrats are declaring the President should be impeached based on a whistleblower complaint they haven't read, reportedly from a person with zero firsthand knowledge.”
Zeldin, echoing the president and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, accused Biden of helping his son Hunter Biden by forcing the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had once investigated a Ukrainian gas company that Hunter Biden was involved with.