Though he said Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s actions “raise novel and serious questions about his commitment to putting the good of the country before his own interests,” first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine stopped short of calling for an impeachment inquiry.

Hours later, though, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared there would be one.

The move follows growing sentiment among House Democrats that it is time to begin an impeachment inquiry in the wake of the president’s refusal to hand over information about alleged efforts to force the Ukrainian government to investigate the overseas business conduct of a challenger’s son.

Golden, who represents the 2nd District, said in a prepared statement the U.S. House “must take every action necessary to combat this administration’s stonewalling of the rule of law,” including a first step of making sure the intelligence committees on Capitol Hill receive “the full text of the whistleblower’s complaint” as required by law.

The number of Democratic lawmakers calling for an impeachment move grew quickly this week as more of them said attempts by Trump and his personal lawyer to force Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son crossed the line of acceptable behavior.

“The willingness of the president to legitimize or even entertain the involvement of foreign entities in domestic affairs is of grave concern,” Golden said.

He said that once again “we are seeing in this administration a fundamental failure to put the interests of the country ahead of political gain.”

Trump dismissed the impeachment talk as ridiculous.

In a talk with reporters in New York, the president said, “It’s a witch hunt. I’m leading in the polls. They have no idea how they stop me. The only way they can try is through impeachment. This has never happened to a president before.”

Trump’s campaign committee said in a fundraising email Tuesday that Democrats “know they have no chance of winning in 2020, so now they are crying, ‘Impeachment!'”

Maine’s two senators — Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King — would sit in judgment if the House chooses to impeach Trump.

They are also members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has told the lawyer representing the anonymous whistleblower to make him available this week for “a closed bipartisan interview,” according to Yahoo News. The letter was signed by both the Republican and Democratic leaders of the panel, a sign of bipartisan consensus on the need to gather more information.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-California, said on Twitter that the whistleblower may talk with his panel this week as well.

The Senate also voted unanimously to call on the president to hand over the whistleblower’s complaint.

Seven of Golden’s freshmen colleagues with military or intelligence backgrounds said in an op-ed in The Washington Post on Tuesday that if the allegations raised against Trump are true, they “represent an impeachable offense.”

They called the allegations “stunning, both in the national security threat they pose and the potential corruption they represent” and insisted “this flagrant disregard for the law cannot stand.”

Golden, a U.S. Marine veteran who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, did not join them. His own statement did not mention the possibility of impeachment.

The Maine lawmaker’s only challenger, Republican Eric Brakey, said the impeachment inquiry “is another chapter in the never-ending witch hunt against President Trump and Jared Golden is following Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment playbook. As Maine’s congressman, I will stand with President Trump to drain the swamp and end these partisan witch hunts.”

Golden focused his remarks on the latest revelations about Trump’s alleged threats to Ukrainian leaders.

“I believe it is important to be honest that there has been a growing cancer among the Washington establishment for far too long that has enabled foreign interests to seep into our politics,” Golden said.

“But to be clear: The president’s statements and reported actions raise novel and serious questions about his commitment to putting the good of the country before his own interests,” said Golden, who won his seat last year by defeating Republican incumbent Bruce Poliquin by a narrow margin.

Trump won Maine’s 2nd District, collecting an electoral vote in the process, which makes it politically tricky for Golden no matter what stance he takes on issues involving the president.

Golden said he believes “any leader of this nation, at any level of government, who actively seeks to involve foreign entities in American politics, especially in our campaigns and elections, is betraying the good faith of the American people.”

“We are a nation of laws, and it would be dangerous to ignore the importance of process in making political decisions,” he said, pointing out that “Congress has a duty to seek out and carefully examine all of the available evidence before taking action.”

“The more serious the matter at hand, the more important that principle is,” the Democrat said.

Given that a whistleblower complaint has been filed “by a member of our nation’s intelligence community” and a Trump-appointed inspector general has called it urgent, Golden said Congress needs full access to the document.

“What we know about its content is primarily based on speculation and anonymous media sources,” he said. “Congress must acquire all of the facts.”

Golden said the law is clear: that the acting national intelligence director “must forward the whistleblower’s complaint to both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees” so that members can fully examine it.

In addition, he said, the whistleblower must be protected against retaliation by the White House.

“This isn’t negotiable,” Golden said. “It’s the law.”

“The House of Representatives must take every action necessary to combat this administration’s stonewalling of the rule of law,” he said. “Ensuring that the Intelligence Committees receive the full text of the whistleblower’s complaint is a necessary first step.”


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