The release of the redacted Mueller report last week confirmed what many already knew: President Trump is a pathological liar, a serial criminal and woefully unfit to occupy the most powerful office in the world. One of the many questions that has emerged as Americans continue to parse the special counsel’s findings is what Congress is going to do about it. The most obvious course of action is for the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives to begin impeachment proceedings.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) reinvigorated the prospect last Friday when she joined fellow presidential candidate Julián Castro in calling for the House to take action to remove the president from office. “The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty,” she wrote on Twitter. “That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States.”
Momentum continued to build over the weekend, with House Judiciary Chairman Committee Jerry Nadler (D-NY), House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) all said that what is detailed in the Mueller report could constitute impeachment and that they could be open to the idea. “History would smile upon us for standing up for the Constitution,” Cummings said when asked whether Senate Republicans striking down the effort to impeach Trump should be considered.
On Monday night, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) joined Warren and Castro in calling for proceedings while speaking at a CNN town hall event. “I think we have very good reason to believe that there is an investigation that has been conducted which has produced evidence that tells us that this president and his administration engaged in obstruction of justice,” said the former prosecutor. “I believe Congress should take the steps towards impeachment.”
“I believe Congress should take the steps towards impeachment.”
Sen. Kamala Harris says the Mueller report points toward obstruction, but adds she is a “realist” and doubts her Republican colleagues in the Senate will vote to remove President Trump from office. #HarrisTownhall pic.twitter.com/k1B154bzql
— CNN (@CNN) April 23, 2019
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) — who will have to lead the party through impeachment proceedings if it decides to pursue them — didn’t rule out the prospect while speaking with Democrats on Monday. “If it is what we need to do to honor our responsibility to the Constitution. If that’s the place the facts take us, that’s the place we have to go,” she said on a conference call.
Though Pelosi cautioned that now is not the time for impeachment and that Congress should continue to investigate the president, keeping the idea on the table is a big step from where the House speaker was a month ago. “I’m not for impeachment,” she told the Washington Post in March. “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.”
Though few Democrats would argue Trump hasn’t crossed the “high crimes and misdemeanors” threshold laid out in the Constitution, many now believe the redacted Mueller report represents the “compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan” evidence Pelosi and other hesitant lawmakers have been holding out for. “While I understand we need to see the full report and all supporting documents, I believe we have enough evidence now,” Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) said on the call, according to the New York Times, adding that “we are struggling to justify why we aren’t beginning impeachment proceedings.”
“I know it’s going to take courage on the part of all of our members to stick with a program that might not be as fast as they want,” Pelosi reportedly replied, adding that she’s “not struggling with this decision” to hold off on beginning impeachment proceedings.
But the most compelling case to begin impeachment proceedings Monday night wasn’t set forth on the 87-minute call between congressional Democrats. During a CNN town hall event, Sen. Warren elaborated on why she believes the time is now, arguing emphatically that everyone in the Senate and the House of Representatives should be forced to go on record and say whether or not it’s OK for a president to have done the things detailed in the redacted Mueller report, such as instructing the White House counsel to lie and excoriating lawyers for taking notes.
“If there are people in the House or the Senate who want to say that’s what a president can do, when the president is being investigated for his own wrongdoings, or when a foreign government attacks our country, then they should have to take that vote and live with it for the rest of their lives,” she said, to huge applause.
Senator Warren on impeachment: “If there are people in the House or the Senate who want to say that’s what a president can do, when the president is being investigated for his own wrongdoings…then they should have to take that vote and live with it for the rest of their lives.” pic.twitter.com/hqz9zjCYjV
— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) April 23, 2019
It’s pretty hard to argue with that.
Trump, meanwhile, is living on another planet. “Only high crimes and misdemeanors can lead to impeachment,” he tweeted Monday morning. “There were no crimes by me (No Collusion, No Obstruction), so you can’t impeach. It was the Democrats that committed the crimes, not your Republican President! Tables are finally turning on the Witch Hunt!”
It’s unclear if the president is aware that it’s up to Congress to determine what constitutes “high crimes and misdemeanors” and that a criminal charge is not required. Regardless, the president was nonplussed when asked at the White House Egg Roll whether he was concerned. “Not even a little bit,” he said before turning and disappearing into a crowd of supporters.