WASHINGTON — As the House works toward impeaching President Donald Trump, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been implicated and should be held accountable.
“It looks like from the evidence it’s entirely possible and likely that Mike Pence is at the very least complicit in a crime,” Ocasio-Cortez told BuzzFeed News. “And if not a crime, a violation of his very oath as vice president.”
“I don’t think that either of them are fit to serve in public office — ever again,” she added, referring to both Pence and Pompeo.
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Last month during Intelligence hearings, Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, testified that Pompeo, Pence, and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney were updated on the president’s efforts to press Ukraine to investigate a political rival and his family, in exchange for military aid. The Democrats’ case against Trump, released earlier this week, states explicitly that Pence, Pompeo, and other US officials were also “either knowledgeable of or active participants” in the effort.
“I think that this has tanked and tagged Mike Pence — the same thing for Mike Pompeo. I think that this will follow them for their political careers,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
The first-year member of Congress, who came out in favor of impeachment in April this year, said the hearings over the past few weeks showed the extent of the corruption at play and said that Attorney General Bill Barr was also implicated.
“Barr, as well, is implicated in all of this and it entirely seems that they are continuing to pursue this pattern [of corruption],” she said.
In the July 25 call at the center of the impeachment inquiry, Trump told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to talk with Barr and Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer working for the president, about the investigations Trump had requested. Barr, through a spokesperson, has denied involvement.
Over the course of several weeks, the House Intelligence Committee held public hearings in which State Department employees, along with present and former White House staff, testified that the president engaged in a quid pro quo when he asked Zelensky to investigate the origins of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as well as former vice president Joe Biden and his family.
This week, the House Judiciary Committee brought in four constitutional scholars, of whom three selected by Democrats testified the president’s actions are impeachable.
The Judiciary Committee will hold a second hearing on Dec. 9, where members of both parties on the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees will present evidence from the impeachment investigation. The House is expected to vote on articles of impeachment within the coming weeks.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, would not speak to Pence and Pompeo’s involvement. “We don’t want to prejudge where we’re going. This is a preceding dealing with the president of the United States,” she said.
But Jackson Lee added that there are ongoing investigations within the House Intelligence Committee and noted that the Judiciary Committee “may” have some continued investigation as well, as it fights in court to get former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify.
If the House passes impeachment articles, the Republican-led Senate will then agree on rules governing the next phase of the impeachment proceedings and hold a trial to determine whether or not to remove the president from office.
Ocasio-Cortez, a New York City Democrat, told BuzzFeed News she doesn’t have much faith in Senate Republicans and said she’s not “raising people’s hopes” about removing Trump from office back in her home district.
“They need to be on the record, even if they vote to acquit, they will be on the record for protecting this president over protecting the Constitution of the United States,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“I think it’s important to show the corruption of the Senate,” she said when asked what she tells her constituents who are looking for Congress to impeach the president.
Ocasio-Cortez said she thinks that how each senator votes on impeachment “will have longer-term ramifications than people think.”