Phil Scott Is First G.O.P. Governor to Back Impeachment Inquiry

Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont on Thursday endorsed the impeachment inquiry against President Trump, becoming the first Republican governor to do so.

Mr. Scott’s announcement, at a news conference, was carefully calibrated. He did not say that he believed Mr. Trump should be impeached, much less removed from office. He said only that Congress should examine the full whistle-blower report, and that it was appropriate for the House to proceed with the inquiry that Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Tuesday.

“I think the inquiry is important, yes, and where it leads from here is going to be driven by the facts that are established,” he said.

His remarks at the news conference mirrored a statement his office released beforehand, in which he said he supported the opening of an inquiry but also added: “Most realize impeachment is a very serious issue and should not be taken lightly or abused. Congress has a solemn responsibility to every American to fulfill its role in our government system of checks and balances. It is my hope they will be objective and let their work take them wherever the facts lead, and they will be transparent with the American people every step of the way.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Scott said the governor was not available for an interview Thursday afternoon, but she emphasized the distinction between supporting impeachment and supporting the inquiry.

“As the governor has said, he’s not predetermining the outcome of the inquiry, which could find there is no cause to move forward,” the spokeswoman, Rebecca Kelley, said in an email.

Yet this stance, limited as it is, is noteworthy when most other Republicans are circling the wagons around the president. Even other moderate Republican governors, like Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Larry Hogan of Maryland, have stopped short of endorsing the impeachment inquiry, though Mr. Baker did call on Congress to investigate Mr. Trump’s actions.

“It’s a deeply disturbing situation and circumstance, and I think the proper role and responsibility for Congress at this point is to investigate it and get to the bottom of it,” Mr. Baker said in Boston on Thursday. He did not use the word “impeachment” or directly address Ms. Pelosi’s decision to open a formal inquiry.

Based on public statements and a New York Times survey, not one of the nearly 200 House Republicans supports the impeachment inquiry. (Fifty-five have said nothing either way.) Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, a former Republican who left the party in July and is now an independent, is the only non-Democrat in the House who supports it.

In news conferences and on Twitter, top Republicans have staunchly defended Mr. Trump and accused Democrats of putting partisanship above country.

Mr. Scott has often departed from the party line, though, especially when it comes to Mr. Trump.

He denounced the president’s calls in July for four House members — all women of color and all United States citizens, three of them native-born — to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” He has criticized Mr. Trump’s climate, trade and immigration policies, and, almost exactly a year ago this week, urged a more thorough investigation of sexual assault allegations against Brett M. Kavanaugh before the Senate confirmed him to the Supreme Court.

Last year, Mr. Scott also defied fellow Republicans by signing a package of gun control measures after the massacre in Parkland, Fla. He nonetheless won re-election by a large margin in Vermont, which is one of the nation’s bluest states.

Jonathan Martin contributed reporting.

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