U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, whose 1st Congressional District includes the East End, was among eight Republicans named to President Donald Trump’s impeachment team on Monday.
In a release, the White House Office of the Press Secretary announced the eight lawmakers “will serve as part of his team working to combat this hyper-partisan and baseless impeachment.”
The Senate trial to determine whether the president should be removed from office began Tuesday with a rancorous debate over procedure that lasted well after midnight.
Mr. Zeldin will join fellow New York Representative Elise Stefanik on the group.
“Honored to be asked to serve on President Trump’s Impeachment Team,” Mr. Zeldin said via Twitter. “On both the process AND substance, this impeachment has been a total sham from the very beginning!”
The group also includes Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee; Representative Jim Jordan, an outspoken Trump ally from Ohio; Representative Mark Meadows of South Carolina, a member of the Freedom Caucus; and Representatives Mike Johnson of Louisiana, John Ratcliffe of Texas, and Debbie Lesko of Arizona.
“Throughout this process, these members of Congress have provided guidance to the White House team, which was prohibited from participating in the proceedings concocted by Democrats in the House of Representatives,” the White House press release stated.
Although House Democrats have the majority in House and thus control the Intelligence and Judicial committees, where hearings leading up to the president’s impeachment were held, they did not prohibit the White House from participating in the hearings.
In fact, President Trump and his legal team ignored subpoenas and refused to make witnesses available to both committees.
Mr. Zeldin attended the bulk of the House impeachment hearings, including closed-door sessions, as a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
“Considering the Congressman’s in-depth knowledge of both the public hearings and closed door depositions, he will be serving as a critical advisor throughout the trial proceedings,” said Mr. Zeldin’s aide, Katie Vincentz, in an email.
Since Mr. Trump’s election in 2016, Mr. Zeldin has become one of the president’s staunchest supporters and a sharp critic of impeachment. The process began after a federal whistleblower last summer reported the president had withheld already-approved military aid to Ukraine until its newly elected president agreed to investigate possible corruption on the part of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who had a lucrative deal as a consultant with the Ukrainian energy firm, Burisma.
In a response to emailed questions, Mr. Zeldin defended the president’s decision to withhold that aid and called on the American and Ukrainian governments to “work together to get to the bottom of what happened with regards to Burisma and Ukrainians who interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.”
The announcement of Mr. Zeldin’s appointment to the president’s team drew quick responses from the three Democrats running in a primary to oppose him in November’s election.
Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, Stony Brook University chemistry professor Nancy Goroff, and Perry Gershon, who lost to Mr. Zeldin in 2018, all accused Mr. Zeldin of spending too much time defending the president and not enough time working on important issues to his constituents, such as health care, water quality, coastal resiliency, and tax relief by restoring deductions for state and local taxes.
“Congressman Zeldin’s appointment to the impeachment team is just further evidence of his focus on the hyper-partisan politics in Washington instead of prioritizing the needs of our district,” Ms. Fleming said.
Mr. Zeldin said Democrats were guilty of the same thing, accusing them of “ripping our country in half with this impeachment push” and wasting opportunities to solve the nation’s problems.