AURORA • Leading Colorado Republicans and supporters of President Donald Trump braved sub-freezing temperatures Thursday to demand that U.S. Rep. Jason Crow and his fellow House Democrats drop the escalating impeachment inquiry targeting the GOP president.
"We know the Republicans are the party of fighters, we are the party that's going to pay attention to the facts — the roaring economy in our nation and here in Colorado," said Kristi Burton Brown, the Colorado Republican Party's vice chair, at a news conference held outside a building that houses Crow's congressional office in Aurora. "We're going to support the president."
Burton Brown was joined by two of Crow's Republican challengers, Steve House and Casper Stockham, and state House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, along with about 20 Trump supporters who waved signs that said "Keep America Great," "Enough is Enough" and "End the Witch Hunt."
It's part of a national campaign launched this week by the Republican National Committee to counter an accelerating probe into Trump's attempts to pressure Ukraine into investigating one of the leading Democratic presidential candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.
"Many of these Democrats ran as middle-of-the-road moderates, saying they would come to Washington, work across the aisle, get rid of the vitriol that was so present in Washington," said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Monday in a call with reporters. "What we have seen from these Democrats is they have reverted to exactly what we thought they were going to be, which is puppets for [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi."
McDaniel said the "Stop the Madness" effort would include advertising aimed at vulnerable Democrats elected in districts that voted for Trump, but Democrat Hillary Clinton won Crow's suburban 6th Congressional District by 9 percentage points, nearly double her margin in Colorado. Nevertheless, a spokesman for the RNC said this week that Crow was among more than 60 Democrats the RNC planned to target with the $2 million campaign, which has included a handful of rallies in scattered districts around the country this week.
Crow, who unseated five-term Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in the perennial battleground district last year, said in a debate with Coffman held two weeks before the election that he wouldn't vote to impeach Trump based on what was known at that time, when Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation was still months from completion.
“I’m a rule-of-law person," Crow said at the October 2018 debate. "I believe we’re in a very sensitive time in our nation’s history right now. We need to be supporting due process and the rule of law.”
"We're going to make sure that all of these representatives know that we will be coming into their district until Election Day 2020 to hold them accountable and make sure their voters know that they have done exactly the opposite of what they ran on, which is working across the aisle with this president," McDaniel said. "Instead, they have fallen to the partisan politics that has helped rip our country apart."
A spokeswoman for Crow on Thursday declined to comment.
Crow was among a group of lawmakers with military and national security backgrounds who helped spur House Democrats to open an impeachment inquiry three weeks ago when they wrote a joint op-ed calling for an investigation into reports Trump had withheld military aid to Ukraine to encourage the country to look into discredited allegations involving the Bidens.
"The president of the United States may have used his position to pressure a foreign country into investigating a political opponent, and he sought to use U.S. taxpayer dollars as leverage to do it," the seven Democratic House members wrote.
They added: "These allegations are stunning, both in the national security threat they pose and the potential corruption they represent,"
Pelosi announced the next day that the House would start an official impeachment inquiry.
After the press conference outside Crow's office, House wouldn't say whether he believes it's appropriate for the president to ask a foreign power to investigate a political opponent.
Instead, he told Colorado Politics that he didn't think that's "exactly" what a transcript of a call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy demonstrated.
"I read the transcript," House said. "I don't know exactly what the president's intentions were, nor would I ever intend to tell you that I do know what his intentions were, but I do know that he's running the country well."
Trump made the same request on Oct. 3 while speaking to reporters on the White House lawn, adding: “Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.”
There is no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens.
While the the RNC's campaign roundly rejects the Democrats' impeachment inquiry, House left open the possibility that he wouldn't object to an inquiry if the House of Representatives held a vote to initiate the procedure.
"I absolutely oppose the impeachment inquiry without a vote of the Congress to actually authorize it and then set up a structure and a set of rules that they can follow," he said.
"I think until there's a formal process, [Trump administration officials] can't be expected to comply with something where they don't have the opportunity to have lawyers there, to have an opportunity to have witnesses — what kind of a process is that?"
Stockham told Colorado Politics that he doesn't think Trump did anything wrong asking the Ukrainian president to look into corruption, but he agrees with Houe that congressional Democrats should vote to authorize a formal impeachment inquiry before proceeding.
"If they really want to go down this road, then they need to take a vote, and (Crow) needs to be on record with an impeachment vote," Stockham said. "I don't even mind them going through this impeachment stuff. If they want to impeach Trump, impeach Trump."
He said he supports any investigation into potential corruption.
"If it leads back to Trump, great, that's fine. If it leads to Biden or Hillary [Clinton] or [Barack] Obama, fine. We're digging out and uncovering corruption."
Stockham added that he's a strong supporter of the president despite some misgivings about his bluster.
"I think Trump is doing a phenomenal job, personally," Stockham said. "I'm not excited about some of his rhetoric or tweets or whatever, but with all the pressure he's been under the past two and a half years, I think he's doing a phenomenal job. I have no problem running on his record."