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Freshman Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib famously promised to “impeach the motherfucker” long before special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report had dropped. But now that Congress has the results, the possibility of impeaching the president depends on who you ask.
So far, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a 2020 candidate for president, has been the most prominent voice to call for President Trump’s impeachment.
“To ignore a president’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways,” she tweeted Friday.
Warren's decision — which she made while reading Mueller’s report on the campaign trail — broke from Democratic leaders in the House, which the Constitution grants the sole power to impeach. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, have, at best, expressed an ambivalence on the issue of impeachment. And several leaders of key committees, whose support will be necessary to force a vote, also seem to be avoiding the question — or say they need more information before deciding.
In his 448-page report, Mueller didn't find sufficient proof that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to undermine the 2016 U.S. election. The two-year investigation did, however, detail the numerous ties between Russian nationals and Trump and his campaign staff, who often lied about those contacts. The report also laid out 10 instances where Trump may have obstructed the investigation, although Mueller wouldn’t rule on whether the president had acted criminally.
In response, at least seven Democrats have directly said they support impeaching the president. And that’s not out of the realm of possibility. Pelosi said last week that the Democratic caucus would hold a conference call Monday to decide how to respond to the Mueller report’s release.
“Congress will not be silent,” Pelosi tweeted.
“He should have been impeached a long time ago”
So far, numerous key Democrats in the House have joined Warren, who has attempted to stand out as a candidate focusing on policy instead of attacking the president, in her calls for impeachment proceedings to begin.
The House’s four popular new progressives — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and of course, Tlaib — have all already called for impeachment motions to move forward against the U.S. president.
A month before the Mueller report’s release, Tlaib introduced an impeachment resolution. Ocasio-Cortez said seeing the report convinced her to sign on.
“Many know I take no pleasure in discussions of impeachment. I didn’t campaign on it and rarely discuss it unprompted,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “We all prefer working on our priorities: pushing Medicare for All, tackling student loans, and a Green New Deal. But the report squarely puts this on our doorstep.”
But the House will need far more support than four outspoken progressives to get impeachment proceedings underway.
Rep. Maxine Waters, the chair of the House Financial Services Committee, said Democrats had nothing more to prove to begin impeachment proceedings.
“I can only tell you I, for one, have been for impeachment for a long time. I'm going to continue to be for impeachment,” Waters said Sunday on MSNBC. “I think he should have been impeached a long time ago.”
Rep. Al Green, a Texas Democrat who has twice pushed unsuccessfully for votes on articles of impeachment against Trump, pressed his congressional colleagues Sunday to join his calls.
“This rests solely now on the shoulders of the Congress of the United States of America,” Green said in a press conference Sunday.
“Not there yet”
Despite the strong calls for impeachment within the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, some committee leaders and other Democratic members of the House seem a bit more reserved about what to do next.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, chair of the House Oversight Committee, said Monday that he was “not there yet.”
Similarly, Rep. Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, didn’t give a clear answer and said he would have to hear additional information from Attorney General Bill Barr and Mueller as well as get access to the unredacted report.
“Some of this would be impeachable,” Nadler told NBC Sunday. “Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff also told Fox News Sunday that he will reserve judgment on impeachment proceedings until he's discussed the issue with his colleagues in the House.
“That’s going to be a very consequential decision and one that I’m going to reserve judgment on until we’ve had a chance to fully deliberate on it,” Schiff said.
Aside from Warren, the other 2020 Democrats seem far more tepid on the issue. Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg have said, in so many words, that Trump probably deserves to be impeached but they would leave the decision up to Congress. Bernie Sanders reportedly ignored questions about impeachment at a campaign stop over the weekend.
President Trump on Monday pushed back on the possibility of his impeachment by tweeting that he did not commit any crimes, even though that’s not the conclusion Mueller came to in his report.
"Only high crimes and misdemeanors can lead to impeachment," Trump tweeted. "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!"
Cover image: Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., addresses the media at the House Democrats' 2019 Issues Conference at the Lansdowne Resort and Spa in Leesburg, Va. on Thursday, April 11, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)