Warren calls for House to begin impeachment proceedings

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign 2020 Dems put spotlight on disabilities issues MORE (D-Mass.) on Friday called for the House to begin impeachment proceedings against President TrumpDonald John TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign 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 MuellerHouse progressive: Pelosi 'has it right' on impeachment Democrats talk subpoena for Mueller Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna: 'I'm not there yet' on impeachment 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 faces new challenge in 2020 abortion fight Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — McConnell, Kaine offer bill to raise tobacco buying age to 21 | Measles outbreak spreads to 24 states | Pro-ObamaCare group launches ad blitz to protect Dems Romney expresses opposition to Alabama abortion ban 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 Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign Justin Amash confirms collusion witch hunt was all about politics 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 SwalwellCNN's O'Rourke town hall finishes behind Fox News, MSNBC Biden retains large lead over Sanders, other 2020 Dems in new Hill-HarrisX poll Hickenlooper: Gun owners should be licensed, pass safety test MORE (Calif.), who is also seeking the Democratic presidential nod, said Thursday.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Threat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Trump denies 'tantrum' in meeting with Pelosi: 'It is all such a lie!' 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 TlaibTlaib urges Mnuchin to seek personal legal advice Pelosi faces tipping point on Trump impeachment WHIP LIST: Democrats who support an impeachment inquiry against President Trump 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. GreenWHIP LIST: Democrats who support an impeachment inquiry against President Trump Dem clamor for impeachment swells as McGahn refuses testimony Top House Dem calls to launch impeachment inquiry if McGahn skips testimony 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-CortezOcasio-Cortez makes endorsement for Queens district attorney Lawmakers call for 'time out' on facial recognition tech Markey releases infrastructure suggestions that align with Green New Deal goals 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.