Democrats leave impeachment on the table

Democrats leave impeachment on the table

Top Democrats are making it clear they’re open to pursuing impeachment against President TrumpDonald John TrumpThorny part of obstruction of justice is proving intent, that’s a job for Congress Obama condemns attacks in Sri Lanka as ‘an attack on humanity’ Schiff rips Conway’s ‘display of alternative facts’ on Russian election interference MORE even if the effort is likely to be unsuccessful, days after the release of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE‘s report on Russian election interference.

Three Democratic committee chairmen on Sunday discussed the possibility of impeachment proceedings, while emphasizing that a decision won’t be made overnight, as their party must deliberate on the contents of Mueller’s report and the underlying evidence.

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff rips Conway’s ‘display of alternative facts’ on Russian election interference Schiff: Mueller report ‘far worse’ than Watergate Schiff: Democrats ‘may’ take up impeachment proceedings MORE (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said they’ll have to decide soon “what is the best thing for the country” when it comes to impeachment. House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsDem lawmaker: ‘Quite clear’ Trump committed impeachable offenses Cummings on impeachment: ‘We may very well come to that’ Democrats should be careful wielding more investigations MORE (D-Md.), meanwhile, said that even though an impeachment effort would likely be unsuccessful, “there comes a point in life where we all have to make decisions based upon the fact that it is our watch.”

“Impeachment is likely to be unsuccessful” without bipartisan consensus, Schiff said on ABC. The comment was in reference to warnings by Democratic leaders like House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D’Alesandro PelosiSenate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller End of Mueller shifts focus to existing probes Democrats renew attacks on Trump attorney general MORE (D-Calif.) that impeachment would divide the country.

But Schiff added that “it may be that we undertake an impeachment nonetheless.” 

Mueller’s 22-month long investigation did not find evidence of coordination between President Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, but it did detail several cases of potential obstruction of justice.

Those episodes included Trump’s firing of FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyThorny part of obstruction of justice is proving intent, that’s a job for Congress Kellyanne Conway: Mueller didn’t need to use the word ‘exoneration’ in report April Ryan slams Mike Huckabee in Twitter feud: ‘Will you get into heaven? The answer is no!’ MORE and efforts to deny that he ordered then-White House counsel Don McGahn to demand the special counsel be removed.

After reviewing 10 examples that could constitute obstruction, Mueller did not reach a conclusion on the issue, but did mention that Congress has the authority to conduct obstruction of justice investigations.

“With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has the authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice,” Mueller wrote in his more than 400-page report. 

Mueller added that he reached this conclusion after his office set out to examine the past legal precedent governing such matters because the Department of Justice (DOJ) and courts have “not definitively resolved these issues.”

“We therefore examined those issues through the framework established by the Supreme Court precedent governing separation-of-powers issues,” he wrote.

Subsequently, some Democrats like Schiff have not shied away from suggesting impeachment proceedings could be undertaken to make a determination on obstruction of justice. 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerTim Ryan doesn’t back impeachment proceedings against Trump 4/20: Will Congress advance marijuana legislation in 2019? Trump accuses ‘fake news media’ of ‘doing everything possible to stir up anger’ after Mueller report MORE (D-N.Y.) refused to rule out proceedings on Sunday.

He told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Congress will have to receive an unredacted copy of Mueller‘s report and “have to hear from” Mueller and Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrThorny part of obstruction of justice is proving intent, that’s a job for Congress Mueller report unveils American democracy under Russian attack Kellyanne Conway: Mueller didn’t need to use the word ‘exoneration’ in report MORE before reaching a determination on impeachment.

“Some of this would be impeachable,” Nadler said, referring to Trump’s actions laid out in Mueller’s report. “Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable,” he added.

Cummings said “history would smile upon [the House] for standing up for the Constitution” if impeachment proceedings are started during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” 

Other Democrats have more explicitly called for impeachment.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTim Ryan doesn’t back impeachment proceedings against Trump Schiff: Democrats ‘may’ take up impeachment proceedings Trump claims Democrats’ plans to probe admin will cost them ‘big time’ in 2020 MORE (D-Mass.) became the first major 2020 presidential candidate to wade into the issue Friday when she called for impeachment proceedings.

“The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States,” Warren tweeted.

The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States.

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 19, 2019

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezMichael Steele: A missed opportunity at holding banks accountable House Dem dismisses impeachment push: ‘I’d rather defeat’ Trump at ballot box Tlaib rallies in support of Green New Deal at Detroit town hall MORE (D-N.Y.) said Thursday she would sign on to Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibTim Ryan doesn’t back impeachment proceedings against Trump Tlaib rallies in support of Green New Deal at Detroit town hall Warren calls for House to begin impeachment proceedings MORE‘s (D-Mich.) resolution to examine whether Trump committed impeachable offenses.

But several prominent Democrats have thrown cold water on impeachment talks.

Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse Dem dismisses impeachment push: ‘I’d rather defeat’ Trump at ballot box Democrats renew attacks on Trump attorney general Impeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent MORE (D-Md.) have urged members of their party to pump the breaks on proceedings.

Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanTim Ryan doesn’t back impeachment proceedings against Trump Cory Booker has a problem in 2020: Kamala Harris 2020 Dems ratchet up anti-corporate talk in bid to woo unions MORE (D-Ohio), another 2020 candidate, agreed with Democratic leadership on Sunday.

“This is very, very, very serious. I believe that the first step is to have Rep. Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerTim Ryan doesn’t back impeachment proceedings against Trump 4/20: Will Congress advance marijuana legislation in 2019? Trump accuses ‘fake news media’ of ‘doing everything possible to stir up anger’ after Mueller report MORE (D-N.Y.) continue to open up this investigation to better understand this. We are just getting this document,” Ryan said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” stressing the need to “educate” the public. 

Trump and his team have taken a victory lap following the report’s release, calling the results total and complete exoneration.

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