Rep. Kelly Armstrong: Impeachment hearings 'burning up time'

The North Dakota delegate would like to see lawmakers spend more time on such issues as immigration and criminal justice reform.

Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) listens to Michael Cohen testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 27, 2019. (T.J. Kirkpatrick/Copyright 2019 The New York Times)

While talks of impeaching President Donald Trump continue to swirl nationwide, North Dakota Representative Kelly Armstrong sees the movement as a waste of time.

“We have an election coming up in two years,” he said. “If they don’t want Donald Trump to be president they should go beat Donald Trump.”

The House Judiciary Committee, of which Armstrong is a member passed a resolution on Thursday, Sept. 12, to create a protocol for future committee impeachment hearings. The vote does not mean the committee is writing articles of impeachment or that a vote to do so has moved to the House floor yet, but Democrats are calling it an inquiry if there needs to be an impeachment investigation.

The resolution would allow House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., to designate hearings from the committee and subcommittees into an impeachment investigation. Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, is scheduled to testify next week.

Armstrong, who voted against the measure along with all other Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, said the inquiry is taking up time and House Democrats “cannot get their act together on it.”


“They seem to have put this solely in the Judiciary Committee’s purview but they haven’t authorized them to actually start an inquiry,” he said. “I don’t think they have the votes on the floor to start an inquiry. So they’re trying to carve out this whole special thing so they can continue to placate their base.”

Nadler told reporters that the committee will carry out an “aggressive series of hearings investigating allegations of corruption, obstruction and abuse of power against the president.” He said the resolution is needed to create a more effective investigation into conduct that “poses a threat to our democracy.”

Armstrong said there has been mention of impeachment since the day Trump took office, though he doubts action will happen.

“We continue to have these what I call ‘impeachment light hearings,’ when we could be having hearings on criminal justice reform, immigration reform -- these are all things that go through the Judiciary Committee -- and it’s burning up time when we could be working on other things,” Armstrong said.

He introduced the Justice Reinvestment Initiative Act earlier this year which he said is a bipartisan issue that aims to reduce recidivism, curb addiction and reduce taxpayer spending on criminal justice. Armstrong said the act would focus on nonviolent and drug-related offenses.

Armstrong said he will prioritize the trade agreement, which he believes will pass soon.

“It’s tough in ag country right now, and this will do a lot to help,” he said. “It’s a better deal for farmers, and it’s a better deal for the United States.”

Armstrong said his attention this session is also turned to prescription drug package bills that could reduce costs for lifesaving medicines and farm worker immigration reform.

Tess covers crime and courts for the Grand Forks Herald. She previously worked for the Associated Press, Lincoln Journal Star, Omaha World-Herald and The Voice News. Reach her at (701) 780-1267, or on Twitter @ByTessWilliams.
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