Warren calls for House to begin impeachment proceedings

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Buttigieg calls Warren 'evasive' on Medicare for all Sanders hits 1 million donors MORE (D-Mass.) on Friday called for the House to begin impeachment proceedings against President TrumpDonald John TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it 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 MuellerLewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation 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 McDanielRNC reports record .5 million fundraising haul for August Trump targets Debra Messing after actress calls for exposing Hollywood donors Stacey Abrams responds to RNC chairwoman: 'Concession means to say that the process was fair' 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 BarrDemocrats to seek ways to compel release of Trump whistleblower complaint Democrats press Nadler to hold Lewandowski in contempt The Hill's 12:30 Report: Questions swirl around Trump whistleblower complaint 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 SwalwellDemocrats press Nadler to hold Lewandowski in contempt Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate MORE (Calif.), who is also seeking the Democratic presidential nod, said Thursday.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPatagonia says to shut stores for a few hours during Global Climate Strike Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Progressives push for changes to Pelosi drug pricing plan 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 TlaibOmar says she hopes Netanyahu not reelected Bill Maher, Michael Moore spar over Democrats' strategy for 2020 Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight 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. GreenTen notable Democrats who do not favor impeachment Methane emissions continue to drop Two coal miners demand McGrath stop using their images in McConnell attack ad 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-CortezProgressives push for changes to Pelosi drug pricing plan Sanders defends job losses from ending use of fossil fuels Trump spokeswoman: Health care will be 'big' selling point for union workers 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.