GOP Sen. Kennedy: If Trump Asked for an Investigation of a Political Rival, That’s Impeachable

On Sunday’s broadcast of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said if President Donald Trump indeed asked for an investigation of a political rival, as is alleged, it was “over the line.”

When asked if that means impeachable, Kennedy said: “Yeah, probably.”

Partial transcript as follows:

BRENNAN: So I just want to ask you specifically because of the point you’re making in terms of differentiating intent, motive, and culpable state of mind. Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, a decorated army officer who gave sworn testimony — it was released this week. He currently works at the White House, listened to President Trump’s call—

KENNEDY: Right.

BRENNAN: –with the Ukrainian president and he testified, quote, “There was no doubt that the president was seeking political investigations of political rivals.” So is it appropriate to ask foreign governments to investigate Americans?

KENNEDY: Well, it depends on the circumstances. I’m not going to go through the two scenarios that I just gave you, but it depends on the circumstances. And there is- there, I would say this about the transcript. I could comment on the gentlemen’s testimony if you let me hear his live testimony. Let me hear the cross-examination. Let me judge his credibility. Let me judge his body language. And also allow the opposing party to call their own witnesses and rebuttal. That’s- that’s due process, not to- not only allowing the witnesses you want, as the chairman has done, and then leaking selective portions of it to friendly members of the media who lap it up like a puppy.

BRENNAN: Well, all the depositions that- that I’m quoting from are now publicly released. So it was—

KENNEDY: Now they are.

BRENNAN: –the government that released them. Right.

KENNEDY: But before when they were trying— but before when they were trying to- to establish the- a narrative with the American people, they were selectively leaking. And- and that’s what matters—

BRENNAN: Well, now we’re moving into public–

KENNEDY: — here Margaret, what are the American–

BRENNAN: Right. Well, now the case has got to be made to the American public—

KENNEDY: I’m sorry?

BRENNAN: Now the case has to be made to the American public in these public hearings. So is there anything that you could hear from Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, if and when he was called to testify, that would lead you to ever vote for the removal of the president?

KENNEDY: Well, again, I’ve got to hear- I’ve got to hear the testimony. You–

BRENNAN: So that means maybe?

KENNEDY: –You- you- if you want to- if you- if you assert- if you try to assess how a trial is going for our- for our defendant, you don’t just listen to the lawyers opening statements and you don’t just read the transcript. You sit there and listen to all the testimony, the cross-examination, and the context. And I- I think- I think that- that Speaker Pelosi’s decision and Adam Schiff’s decision to prevent the Republicans from calling their own witnesses in the live testimony is just doubling down on stupid. The American people, I think, are going look at this and go, “I get it.” They’re going to give the president a fair and impartial firing squad.

BRENNAN: So, you’re not—

KENNEDY: And- and that’s not due process.

BRENNAN: But you’re not suggesting here that the witnesses, like Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, lack credibility?

KENNEDY: I don’t know. I can’t. I wasn’t allowed to hear them.

BRENNAN: Well–

KENNEDY: What I am telling you is that if it can be demonstrated that the president asked for and- and had the requisite state of mind, that the president asked for an investigation of a political rival, that’s over the line.

BRENNAN: Okay.

KENNEDY: But if he asked for an investigation of possible corruption by someone who happens to be a political rival, that’s not over the line.

BRENNAN: So, over the line, does that mean impeachable?

KENNEDY: Yeah, probably.

BRENNAN: So, there is something you could hear—

KENNEDY: But again—

BRENNAN: –that could potentially persuade you to vote for removal?

KENNEDY: What? I can’t answer that, Margaret, because that- that- that- that encompasses all possible scenarios. That’s like asking me if I didn’t go fishing Saturday, how many fish will I have caught? All I’m saying is that- that- that it ought to be fair. It ought to be public. I read somewhere that democracy dies in darkness. It ought to be public. Both sides ought to be called- able to call their witnesses in front of God and country and the American people. And then let the American people decide and- and the president and his counsel should be allowed to participate. Now, I think that would be fair. And then I- I will happily judge the evidence. But you can’t limit the witnesses, as Chairman Schiff and Speaker Pelosi’s are doing. Selectively leaked portions of the—

BRENNAN: Right.

KENNEDY: –transcript that favor your opinion to friendly members of the press who lap it up like a puppy.

BRENNAN: Well—

KENNEDY: I don’t think any fair minded person in the Milky Way believes that Speaker Pelosi or Chairman Schiff are impartial here.

BRENNAN: Well–

KENNEDY: So, but they can—

BRENNAN: –we look forward to the trial–

KENNEDY: –at least follow due process.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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