Senator Baldwin on impending impeachment hearings, whether Senator Johnson should recuse himself

WTMJ Exclusive/Wisconsin's Morning News

As members of the House of Representatives debated before a vote on starting the process for public hearings on the potential impeachment of President Donald Trump, Wisconsin's Democratic senator shared her beliefs on that impeachment process and on whether Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson should recuse himself from any potential Senate trial on impeachment.

"He will have to make that decision himself. I know that in recent interviews, he's acknowledged the information that he got at certain key points," Senator Tammy Baldwin told WTMJ's Wisconsin's Morning News Thursday.

"He became a part of this story because of a trip to the Ukraine where he got certain information. He has to judge for himself whether he should play any role in hearing the case should a trial be brought to the Senate."

Johnson's roles chairing the foreign relations subcommittee on Europe and participating on the Senate Ukraine Caucus led him to particular communication with Ukraine that the House may want to look into during the impeachment process, as the Journal Sentinel cites.

Baldwin believes the impeachment process is necessary. She says it should involve allegations of two items:
1) That President Donald Trump allegedly asked the President of Ukraine to open up an investigation into the son of 2020 presidential race rival Joe Biden and tied aid for Ukraine to that investigation happening
2) The President allegedly attempted to discredit a "unanimous conclusion from our law enforcement and intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

"Both of those things in my mind are putting his personal and political interests above the interests of the country," said Baldwin.

"I don't think there is much of a choice when you find out information about the call log which the White House released, and then witnesses are testifying (and) corroberating what all of us have had a chance to look at. It seems to be going very expeditiously. The committee seems to be working daily, and sometimes on weekends, to question witnesses. They're preparing to bring this to open hearing that the public can observe, but they appear to be working pretty expeditiously."

There had been complaints about the initial inquiry into impeachment involving interviews behind closed doors - with one instance of Republican Congress members heading uninvited into a hearing and delaying testimony.

Baldwin defended the process, similar to a criminal trial with private depositions in the beginning before public testimony.

"One of the reasons that it's frequently done without the cameras present is because they want to make sure that witnesses corroborate one another or don't, and they can't really compare notes about their testimony, because it's done in private," explained Baldwin.

"Now, I think the House is taking the appropriate path forward in their vote today. They'll be opening the process up. Those same witnesses will be able to be seen and heard by the American public, and people can then make their own judgments. I think this is the appropriate path that the American people deserve to see and hear from these witnesses."

Senator Baldwin also spoke about this being Medicare and Medicaid signup season, as open enrollment runs Nov. 1 through Dec. 15. She said there are more plans, and rates are going down. She suggests getting an "experienced insurance expert walking you through the choices." Call 211 for more information on signing up.

The Senator will be at Outreach Community Health Center on West Capitol Drive in Milwaukee Friday for a signup event. The event is also meant for the public to find out not only their eligibility for Medicare or Medicaid, but possible tax breaks.

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