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All Minnesota Democrats open to impeaching Trump, save Peterson

Peterson said he believes the process will polarize the country further.

Rep. Collin Peterson
Rep. Collin Peterson: "If anyone thinks a partisan impeachment process would constrain President Trump, they are fooling themselves."
MinnPost photo by Walker Orenstein

Every Democrat in the Minnesota congressional delegation has endorsed starting impeachment proceedings against President Trump in one form or another, except for one: Rep. Collin Peterson.

And he doesn’t intend to.

“If anyone thinks a partisan impeachment process would constrain President Trump, they are fooling themselves. Without significant bipartisan support, impeachment proceedings will be a lengthy and divisive action with no resolution,” Peterson, of Minnesota’s Seventh District, said in a statement.

Peterson said he believes the process will polarize the country further, making him not just the only Minnesota Democrat in Congress not to entertain impeachment proceedings, but putting him in an increasingly smaller pool of House Democrats who do not support impeachment.

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“I believe it will be a failed process that will end up even further dividing our country and weakening our ability to act together on issues like passing USMCA [trade deal], containing foreign threats and growing our economy,” he said.

President Trump won Peterson’s district by over 30 points in 2016. Peterson maintained his seat in 2018 despite his opponent receiving an endorsement from the president.

Until now, House Democrats’ push for impeachment was spurred by the Mueller Report, in which Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not clear Trump of committing a crime. “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not,” he said in May, contradicting the Trump administration’s assessment of the report.

But it was reports last week that Trump pressured Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son that pushed most of the Minnesota delegation over the edge.

Today, Sen. Tina Smith formally announced she was in support of an impeachment inquiry for that reason. “Amid reports that the president asked or even actively pressured Ukraine, a foreign government, to interfere in our country’s democracy by undermining a political opponent, we must fully and fairly open a process to lay out all the facts,”  she said.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is running for president, endorsed impeachment proceedings in June. 

On Monday, Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota’s Third District said he would support impeachment proceedings if it’s confirmed that the president did indeed pressure Ukraine.

“If the reports are corroborated, we must pursue articles of impeachment and report them to the full House of Representatives for immediate consideration.”

Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota’s Second District followed up with a more forceful call for impeachment proceedings not long after: “The president and his personal counsel confessed to asking the Ukrainian government to interfere with a political rival …  I am calling to open impeachment proceedings — immediately, fairly, and impartially,” she said in a statement.

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Both Fourth District Rep. Betty McCollum and Fifth District Rep. Ilhan Omar, the two most progressive members of the delegation, have long called for impeachment. In May, McCollum said proceedings should be expedited and Congress should formally draft articles of impeachment.

“Just one word,” Omar said on Twitter last week, when the Ukraine story broke. “Impeachment.”

Back in Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz, who represented Minnesota’s First Congressional District until 2019, said that his former colleagues in the House are doing the right thing.

“It may not be politically right for the Democrats to do this, but I think they have a responsibility of checks and balances,” Walz told MinnPost. After retiring, Walz was replaced by Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who has staunchly backed the president.

When asked if he supports an impeachment inquiry himself, Walz said: “If that leads them down that road. That’s what will happen.”

Walker Orenstein contributed to this report.