CORNING — Nothing has transpired over the past week to convince Rep. Tom Reed that the actions of President Trump and his dealings with Ukraine have reached the level of an impeachable offense.
“Impeachment is reserved for high crimes or crimes such as treason, such as bribery,” he said in a conference call with reporters earlier this week. “I just don’t see impeachable-level offenses in the evidence.”
He said that impeachment “is not a tool under the Constitution to be flippantly put out there. I just don’t see high crimes (and misdemeanors), I just don’t see treason.”
In a phone call, Trump prodded Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, while Trump’s administration delayed the release of military aid to help Ukraine fight Russia-backed separatists.
Biden is a leading contender on the Democratic side in the 2020 presidential race against Trump.
While Trump has come under fire, Reed said people should be concerned about the dealings of Biden and his son Hunter. Joe Biden, who was then vice president in the Obama administration, was the point man on Ukraine while his son was serving on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company accused of corruption.
Joe Biden told Ukrainian leaders they needed to fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin to get $1 billion in U.S. aid, but there is no evidence yet that Biden pushed for Shokin’s ouster to protect his son. Numerous reports say Joe Biden was working on behalf of European countries and international bodies that wanted Shokin out because he wasn’t pursuing corruption, including the Burisma case.
Hunter Biden’s involvement with Burisma has raised questions of conflict-of-interest from Republicans and others.
Further, said Reed, he is worried, as are others, that Congress will neglect the work of the people if it goes full bore toward impeachment.
“A lot of folks tell me they’re not concerned about impeachment,” he said, explaining that many residents in his district are more concerned about high prescription prices, job security and keeping their farms alive.
Reed said he has a “general discomfort with all the rhetoric … and the further polarizing of the country.”
He said both sides should “take a deep breath and lower the rhetoric.”
In another political topic, Reed touched on the resignation of Rep. Chris Collins, R-27 of Clarence, who pleaded guilty Tuesday in an insider trading case, a day after he resigned from Congress and set off a scramble to fill his seat in his Republican-leaning district. Collins’ district includes the western half of Ontario County.
“Obviously, I’m glad this has come to a closure,” said Reed, expressing his sympathy for Collins’ family. “At the end of the day, I think this (resignation) was the right thing to do.”
Reed said people should not become cynical about the motivations of politicians in light of cases such as Collins’, saying that “99 percent of the people that serve in public office are good, honorable people. We need good people to step forward (serve).”
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo will set a special election to replace Collins, but no dates have been announced. Reed said he thinks the April 2020 presidential primary would be an opportune time for the vote.