Warren calls for House to begin impeachment proceedings

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenKamala Harris receives new Iowa endorsements after debate performance Warren speech in Georgia interrupted by pro-charter school protesters Hillicon Valley: Senators ask Trump to halt Huawei licenses | Warren criticizes Zuckerberg over secret dinner with Trump | Senior DHS cyber official to leave | Dems offer bill on Libra oversight MORE (D-Mass.) on Friday called for the House to begin impeachment proceedings against President TrumpDonald John TrumpWatergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book Obama: 'Everybody needs to chill out' about differences between 2020 candidates 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) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump 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 McDanielGOP chairwoman: Buttigieg is a 'progressive liberal in moderate clothing' RNC says ex-Trump ambassador nominee's efforts 'to link future contributions to an official action' were 'inappropriate' Paul dismisses Bevin loss, touts 'red wave' in other Kentucky races 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 BarrThe truth about presidential power GOP rep predicts watchdog report on alleged FISA abuses will find 'problems' Barr defends Trump's use of executive authority, slams impeachment hearings 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 SwalwellTrump attacks Fox News for interviewing Swalwell Live coverage: Schiff closes with speech highlighting claims of Trump's corruption The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Vindman defends witnesses from 'cowardly' attacks at third day of hearings MORE (Calif.), who is also seeking the Democratic presidential nod, said Thursday.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Deal on defense bill proves elusive | Hill, Holmes offer damaging testimony | Trump vows to block Navy from ousting officer from SEALs On The Money: Trump signs short-term spending bill to avoid shutdown | Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 | California high court strikes down law targeting Trump tax returns Wasserman Schultz makes bid for House Appropriations Committee gavel 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 TlaibPoll: Biden and Sanders tied nationally, followed by Warren More than 100 Democrats sign letter calling for Stephen Miller to resign Hillicon Valley: Progressives oppose funding bill over surveillance authority | Senators call for 5G security coordinator | Facebook gets questions over location tracking | Louisiana hit by ransomware attack 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 12:30 Report — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Vindman defends witnesses from 'cowardly' attacks at third day of hearings Trump knocks Pelosi ahead of new impeachment hearings: 'She's CRAZY!' Live coverage: House holds third day of public impeachment hearings 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-CortezPoll: Biden and Sanders tied nationally, followed by Warren More than 100 Democrats sign letter calling for Stephen Miller to resign Steyer, Biden clash over climate credentials 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.