Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Friday ripped both chambers of Congress — and the parties that control them — for their handling of President Donald Trump’s impeachment proceedings, calling the process “a sham and a joke.”
Hogan, the Republican leader of a deep blue state, has found himself frequently at odds with the president and came out in favor of an impeachment inquiry in October. The president’s Senate impeachment trial ended Wednesday in a mostly partisan acquittal on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, ending an acrimonious four month battle in Washington.
But speaking at POLITCO’s 10th annual State Solutions conference, Hogan said that he had more faith in voters than Congress to evaluate the president's conduct, emphasizing that he wanted to see a fairer and more objective process.
“I don’t think Congress did their job. But the American people will, and I have more faith in the American people to make that decision in November, and that’s what they're going to get to do,” he predicted.
Hogan is not the first member of his family to break ranks with the Republican Party against a sitting GOP president. The Maryland governor’s father, Larry Hogan Sr., was the first Republican congressman to come out in favor of impeaching former President Richard Nixon in 1974. The governor on Friday noted that as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, his father fought for Nixon to be able to call and cross examine witnesses and to be able to mount a defense during his impeachment hearings.
“Only after seeing all the evidence,” significant portions of which were forcibly turned over by federal court orders, was Hogan Sr. able to make a decision, the governor said.
The Maryland governor noted that he’d had doubts from the outset that any impeachment proceeding in such a polarized environment would be fair and objective, smacking the majority parties of both the House and Senate for their conduct over the last four months.
“I thought the Democrats in the House had already decided before the hearings that the president should be impeached and I didn’t think it was going to be fair and objective,” he said.
Hogan added that he thought the impeachment trial was equally as fruitless in the Senate, and that the GOP-led chamber would acquit the president “no matter what the facts were.”
“Pretty much what I said in October is what happened,” he pointed out. “I’m very frustrated.”
Hogan asserted that there was plenty of criticism to go around, and reiterated his assertion from October that “I didn’t like anything that I was hearing” about Trump’s actions with regard to Ukraine and that “we needed to get to the facts.”
In particular, he objected to the lack of bipartisanship in the initial House inquiry, saying he disagreed with Republicans’ inability to call their own witnesses and with initial depositions for the investigation taking place in a classified setting behind closed doors.
House Democrats refused to honor Republicans’ requests for witnesses like former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as the intelligence community whistleblower whose complaint set off the series of events leading to the inquiry, brushing them aside them as irrelevant to the case.
Hogan also criticized Senate Republicans for blocking efforts to hear from new witnesses in the case, a main point of contention in the trial.
“Neither of those things happened, so the whole process was kind of a sham and a joke,” Hogan concluded.
Another Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, also acknowledged to POLITICO that he was concerned by the president's conduct, and remarked of Trump's infamous July conversation with Ukraine's leader: "It was not a perfect call."
"You know, wisdom says that if you've got allegations of corruption, I think that can be handled through the attorney general, particularly whenever it involves somebody that is in the political realm," said Hutchinson, who served as a House impeachment manager during President Bill Clinton's Senate trial two decades ago.
"So, no, it wasn't [a] perfect call, and that's an issue that people can look at differently," he continued. "I look at it with a critical eye. But it's certainly not an impeachable offense, and I think that's what the Senate found, clearly."
Quint Forgey contributed to this report