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First House Republican backs impeachment inquiry
Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) on Friday became the first House Republican to voice support for an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
In a conference call with reporters, Amodei made clear he wouldn't vote to impeach Trump, but he also expressed concern over the president's dealings with Ukraine, adding that the House should "put it through the process and see what happens."
"I'm a big fan of oversight, so let's let the committees get to work and see where it goes," he said, according to audio of the call released by The Nevada Independent.
"Using government agencies to, if it's proven, to put your finger on the scale of an election, I don't think that's right," Amodei added. "If it turns out that it's something along those lines, then there's a problem."
He later issued a statement after The Independent's piece was published, emphasizing he was not in favor of impeaching Trump but supportive of the investigative approach.
"In no way, shape, or form, did I indicate support for impeachment," he said.
Amodei, who represents a ruby red district in northern Nevada, said he agreed with a statement from Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) in which she said, "We have to follow the facts and figure out what happened here."
His comments came amid an uproar on Capitol Hill over a July 25 conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, when Trump suggested Kiev launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the president's chief political rivals.
"There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great," Trump said on the call, according to a memorandum. "Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me."
A declassified version of a whistleblower complaint regarding the conversation says "multiple White House officials with direct knowledge" of the call expressed concern that Trump was using his office for his personal political gain. The complaint also revealed the White House sought to conceal a transcript of the call and that a future phone call or meeting with Ukraine "would depend on whether Zelensky showed willingness to 'play ball.'"
Trump has accused Biden of misconduct over his efforts to convince Ukraine to dismiss a prosecutor who was investigating a natural gas company on whose board his son sat. Biden says he wanted the prosecutor dismissed over insufficient efforts to tackle corruption, and no evidence has emerged to suggest Biden acted to benefit his son.
Amodei said Trump's phrasing was inartful, but that it was not proof of any wrongdoing.
"If it was my statement and I had the ability to do it over, I would probably phrase it differently," Amodei said of Trump's phone call with Zelensky, adding, "I don't know that it's a smoking gun."
"I think that's why we have the committee process," he continued. "Part of what the committees will do is try to find some context for that and then based on what a fair reading of the context is, they'll go forward from there."
Rep. Justin Amash, an independent from Michigan, left the Republican Party months after he said special counsel Robert Mueller's report showed Trump "engaged in impeachable conduct."
Amodei, the lone Republican in Nevada's congressional delegation, has repeatedly won reelection by double digits in his district, including in 2018 when he defeated Democrat Clint Koble by more than 16 points.
Koble announced in July a second bid to unseat Amodei, with a potential rematch with him next year.