Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Friday called for the House to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump, wading into a topic that other 2020 White House hopefuls have so far been wary of discussing.
According TheHill, Warren issued the call one day after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his investigation into the 2016 election and the Trump campaign.
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
Warren in particular cited a portion of Mueller’s report in which he wrote that Congress has the authority to conduct obstruction of justice investigations, saying that such probes can provide a check if a president is corrupt.
“Mueller put the next step in the hands of Congress: ‘Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.’ The correct process for exercising that authority is impeachment,” she said in an email announcing her position.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel scoffed at Warren’s comments, saying Trump “was just exonerated after two years of Democrat lies.”
“Democrats’ calls for impeachment have been bogus all along, but Elizabeth Warren is proving how truly desperate they are to appeal to their radical base,” McDaniel said.
Democratic leaders have largely shied away from calling for Trump’s impeachment, though several lawmakers have raised the prospect in the wake of the release of Mueller’s report, which did not establish that there was collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia during the election but detailed multiple instances of potential obstruction of justice.
While the special counsel investigation did not establish that the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election, the report reveals how investigators grappled with the question of whether the president could be credibly accused of obstructing justice.
Prosecutors ultimately declined to say whether Trump should be charged in the probe, but stopped short of exonerating him. Attorney General William Barr has declined to pursue a case against the president.
Democratic presidential contenders have so far been reluctant to address the question of whether Congress should initiate impeachment proceedings against Trump, fearing that doing so could energize the president’s supporters and isolate many of the moderate and independent-minded voters that Democrats are hoping to win over in 2020.
On the campaign trail, candidates have rarely faced questions about the matter, and their advisers frequently point out that voters appear far more interested in kitchen table issues, such as health care and taxes, than in the intrigue surrounding Mueller’s investigation.
In calling for impeachment proceedings to begin, Warren broke from the rest of the Democratic field.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), another 2020 hopeful, cast doubt on the prospect of impeachment on Thursday.
“I don’t know that impeachment and those proceedings in the House and potential trial in the Senate is going to answer those questions for people,” O’Rourke told reporters.
Some candidates have seized on the Mueller report’s release to bolster their claim that the White House under Trump has been thrust into a state of chaos, while others have targeted Barr, arguing that his defense of the president in the face of Mueller’s report undermined his credibility as a law enforcement official.
“If Barr believed in the rule of law, he’d let the report speak for itself, not hold a news conference to spin it on the President’s behalf,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (Calif.), who is also seeking the Democratic presidential nod, said Thursday.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other members of Democratic House leadership have dismissed the idea of trying to remove Trump from office, saying such an effort lacks bipartisan support. But liberal members of the caucus have repeatedly pushed the idea.
Freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) introduced a resolution last month calling for the House to examine whether Trump committed impeachable offenses. At the time it, only one other lawmaker, Rep. Al Green (D-Texas), had signed on.
Green has also in the past introduced his own articles of impeachment, which failed on the House floor but garnered the support of approximately 60 Democratic lawmakers.
On Thursday, following the release of Mueller’s report, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said she would also sign on to the latest impeachment resolution.
Under the Constitution, impeachment proceedings must begin in the House. If the House votes to impeach a president, a trial is then held in the Senate, with the votes of two-thirds of senators necessary to remove the commander in chief from office.