Warren calls for House to begin impeachment proceedings

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCOVID-19 workplace complaints surge; unions rip administration Gloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Police killing in Minneapolis puts new scrutiny on Biden pick MORE (D-Mass.) on Friday called for the House to begin impeachment proceedings against President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation Stocks open mixed ahead of Trump briefing on China The island that can save America MORE, wading into a topic that other 2020 White House hopefuls have so far been wary of discussing.

Warren issued the call one day after the release of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's report on his investigation into the 2016 election and the Trump campaign.

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.

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"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 McDanielRonna Romney McDanielTwitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here's why RNC chairwoman proposes convention safety protocols amid feud with NC governor Biden will help close out Texas Democrats' virtual convention: report MORE 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 BarrWilliam Pelham BarrFormer prosecutors outraged at decision to dismiss the Flynn case should focus on the real problems The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation More than two dozen former prosecutors, judges, active trial lawyers support DOJ decision to dismiss Michael Flynn case MORE 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 SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellGloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Grenell says intelligence community working to declassify Flynn-Kislyak transcripts The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump visits a ventilator plant in a battleground state MORE (Calif.), who is also seeking the Democratic presidential nod, said Thursday.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order targeting social media legal protections | House requests conference with Senate after FISA vote canceled | Minneapolis systems temporarily brought down by hackers MORE (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 TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibPelosi: George Floyd death is 'a crime' Overnight Defense: Pentagon memo warns pandemic could go until summer 2021 | Watchdog finds Taliban violence is high despite US deal | Progressive Dems demand defense cuts Progressives demand defense budget cuts amid coronavirus pandemic MORE (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 GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Miami mayor worries about suicide and domestic violence rise; Trump-governor debate intensifies Overnight Energy: Iconic national parks close over coronavirus concerns | New EPA order limits telework post-pandemic | Lawmakers urge help for oil and gas workers Bipartisan lawmakers urge assistance for oil and gas workers MORE (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-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezAn affordable zero-emissions grid needs new nuclear Recovery First: The American comeback shouldn't hinge on warmed-over policy agendas Ocasio-Cortez blames 'political power' of police for lack of accountability following George Floyd's death MORE (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.

—Updated at 6:31 p.m.