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North Carolina Conservatives React To Impeachment Inquiry

President Donald Trump, left, gives his support to Dan Bishop, right, a Republican running for the special North Carolina 9th District U.S. Congressional race as he speaks at a rally in Fayetteville, N.C., Monday, Sept. 9, 2019.
Chris Seward

Following two weeks of impeachment testimony on Capitol Hill, it is unclear where – or when – the inquiry goes next. What has more clarity are the reactions from plenty of conservatives across North Carolina, who seem largely unmoved by the hearings.

"Really from what I've been watching and seeing it's really just looking like a stretch from the Democrats, honestly," said Gabriel Pope, a 24-year-old student at Western Carolina University.

That viewpoint is common among the GOP in North Carolina.

"Honestly I'm trying to figure out what we've learned from these hearings," offered Brent Woodcox, a Raleigh attorney and special counsel to Republicans in the North Carolina Senate.

"I'd love to see him go in there and take Schiff to task, but at the same time I don't think that's where we need to be as a country."

Both Pope and Woodcox are registered Republicans.

"I mean we already saw the transcript of the phone call. Rudy Giuliani's already been out there in the New York Times saying that he's been trying to investigate the Bidens. Trump essentially admitted to what he did," Woodcox added.

Pope, who is minoring in political science, says based on the testimony, he doesn't have enough information to determine if this is an impeachable offense.

"My personal opinion is this is a dramatic bowl that just keeps on stirring that could be easily clarified if President Trump testified," he said.

That's a sentiment shared by fellow student Mckinley Webb - a self-described fiscal conservative.

"I won't be able to make a decision for myself about how I personally feel about it until Trump responds to it in a formal way. We've seen him tweet about it and in news reports… Until he's questioned formally I can't make a decision one way or the other," she said.

North Carolina House Representative Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) met the college students half way.

"From my own personal entertainment benefit, I'd love to see him go in there and take Schiff to task, but at the same time I don't think that's where we need to be as a country," Saine explained.

Saine described the hearings as fascinating – but shrugged off the impact, and offered critiques of several who testified.

"Watching Vinman's body language and that smugness that I perceived, that I see as he gives his testimony, has been pretty shocking, because it has been pretty blatant," he said of Lt.  Col. Alexander Vinman, who offered testimony on Wednesday.

Conservatives contacted for this story were not swayed by the testimony of EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland either.

Woodcox, the General Assembly special counselor, has long been an outspoken conservative critic of the President. He doesn't think the Ukraine call amounts to high crimes and misdemeanors, however he offered this:

"If you had asked me after Charlottesville should President Trump be removed from office, I would have said yes. I don't think he's fit to be President because of something like that. He's put the country in danger, he divided us, he's pitted us against one another and people died because of it," said Woodcox. "So is there an impeachment offense he's committed? – yes I believe there is and he should be removed over it, but not this one."

There was one area of unanimous agreement. Everyone who commented for this story agreed, the Democrats who control the House will impeach President Trump, but the Republicans who rule the Senate will not vote to remove him from office.

Jeff Tiberii is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Jeff joined WUNC in 2011. During his 20 years in public radio, he was Morning Edition Host at WFDD and WUNC’s Greensboro Bureau Chief and later, the Capitol Bureau Chief. Jeff has covered state and federal politics, produced the radio documentary “Right Turn,” launched a podcast, and was named North Carolina Radio Reporter of the Year four times.
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