BAXTER — Congressman Pete Stauber, R-Duluth, won’t say if he’ll vote for or against impeaching the president, but he hasn’t shied from lambasting Democrat-led investigations as disingenuous and unfounded.

Before speaking with the Dispatch, Stauber attended a lunch with local state representatives and mayors Tuesday, Nov. 26, at Prairie Bay Grill in Baxter in an extended private discussion on rural broadband and infrastructure initiatives. According to Stauber’s office, he visited Garfield Elementary School and the Brainerd Public Library later that day.

While the first-term congressman wouldn’t commit to voting yes or no if an impeachment vote came to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, he criticized investigations into President Donald Trump and stated the 45th chief executive wasn’t guilty of impeachable offenses.

Stauber said Democrats have been gunning to undermine Trump’s mandate from the inception of his presidency.

“After 19 hours, they were talking about impeaching our president,” Stauber said. “I’m in Washington and impeachment is sucking the life out of the nation's capital and doing the people’s business. Even the public has said this is a waste of time and the polling is going down.”

Although it was unclear to which polls Stauber referred, some polls indicate national support for impeachment has dipped somewhat since October. While an NPR/PBS/Marist poll indicated 49% of Americans supported impeachment in early October, current figures place support at 45%. This decline was documented in similar polls by Morning Consult — from 50% in early October to 48% in mid-November — and FiveThirtyEight, which indicated a nearly 3-point drop from 48.8% to 46% in that time frame.

On the other hand, half of Americans say Trump should be impeached and removed from office and 43% say he should not, according to a recent CNN poll conducted by SSRS, showing those numbers unchanged since October. Although views on impeachment and removal have not moved, the poll finds that 53% say Trump improperly used his office to gain political advantage, up from 49% who said the same in October, CNN reported. The public is about evenly divided over whether there is enough evidence now for the House to vote to impeach the President and send him to trial before the Senate (48% say yes, 47% say no), CNN reported.

“We know that we’re better than that,” Stauber said. “I think Speaker Pelosi, whether she brings up impeachment or not, that’s going to be her call, but I know how the majority of people feel across the nation and in the 8th District.”

Stauber’s comments came days after testimonies by administration officials privy to negotiations at the time confirmed a quid pro quo was offered to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. This agreement would have taken form in a promised Ukrainian investigation into political rival Joe Biden’s family dealings in exchange for releasing over $400 million in military aid sanctioned by Congress.

Speaking under oath, testimonies directly implicating Trump include those by Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, former U.S. National Security Council member Fiona Hill and former Ambassador Marie Yovanovich, among other administration officials knowledgeable of the matter.

Stauber said “no one is above the law,” then went on to state the president had done nothing wrong, which included no evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors in his estimation. It should be noted that impeachment is a political charge and may or may not have basis in actions dictated as illegal by U.S. state and federal law.

As a former police officer of the Duluth Police Department, Stauber said he would base his decision on the evidence at hand.

“I take impeachment of a sitting president very seriously,” Stauber said. “If Speaker Pelosi brings it to the floor or not, that’s her decision. I’ll vote based on the evidence and we’ll go from there.”

GABRIEL LAGARDE may be reached at gabe.lagarde@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5859. Follow at www.twitter.com/glbrddispatch.