2020 Democrats ramp up calls for Trump impeachment

Democratic presidential hopefuls have ramped up their calls for the House to begin impeachment proceedings against President TrumpDonald John TrumpProtesters tear down statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore 'Independence Day' star Bill Pullman urges Americans to wear a 'freedom mask' in July 4 PSA Protesters burn American flag outside White House after Trump's July Fourth address MORE after 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 spoke publicly for the first time about his investigation.

Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSenators push foreign media to disclose if they are registered as foreign agents Joe Biden must release the results of his cognitive tests — voters need to know GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday MORE (N.J.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandDemocratic lawmakers call for expanding, enshrining LGBTQ rights The Hill's 12:30 Report: Fauci 'aspirationally hopeful' of a vaccine by winter The Hill's Morning Report - Officials crack down as COVID-19 cases soar MORE (N.Y.) joined fellow Democratic Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisJaime Harrison seeks to convince Democrats he can take down Lindsey Graham Senators push foreign media to disclose if they are registered as foreign agents Warnock raises almost M in Georgia Senate race in second quarter MORE (Calif.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden chips away at Trump's fundraising advantage Warnock raises almost M in Georgia Senate race in second quarter The Hill's Morning Report - Trump lays low as approval hits 18-month low MORE (Mass.) in calling for impeachment proceedings, with both Warren and Harris saying that Mueller had delivered an "impeachment referral."

Gillibrand said that "it's time for Republicans and Democrats to begin impeachment hearings and follow the facts wherever they may lead. We cannot let this president defy basic accountability measures built into our Constitution."

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In a statement, she pointed to the Trump administration's refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas and "the fact that Robert Mueller clearly expects Congress to exercise its constitutional authority and take steps that he could not."

Mueller said during a press conference Wednesday morning that his team did not come to a conclusion as to whether Trump committed a crime by interfering with the probe, but reiterated that his report did not exonerate Trump.

“After that investigation, if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that,” the special counsel said.

Mueller also emphasized that he did not have the authority to consider whether the president committed a crime due to Justice Department regulations. The special counsel has previously said that Congress has the authority to pursue obstruction of justice investigations.

The Justice Department released Mueller's report in redacted form last month. It detailed several instances of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and also laid out 10 instances of potential obstruction. Trump has insisted that he did not obstruct justice or coordinate with Russia.

Before Wednesday's statement, a number of 2020 presidential candidates had already called for impeachment proceedings, with Warren last month becoming the first White House contender to call for impeachment.

Harris on Wednesday maintained that the process was a "constitutional obligation," while Booker tweeted that Congress "has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately." 

Booker said in a statement that since the Mueller report was released, Trump has "stonewalled Congressional oversight efforts," pointing to battles between the administration and House Democrats for documents and testimony from Attorney General William BarrBill BarrDemocrat asks Barr to preserve any records tied to environmental hacking probe Justice Dept. considering replacing outgoing US attorney in Brooklyn with Barr deputy: report Ousted Manhattan US Attorney Berman to testify before House next week MORE and former White House Counsel Don McGahn.

"It is our legal and moral obligation to hold those who have committed crimes accountable. It’s clear that the House must begin impeachment proceedings," Booker said.

Warren similarly called for congressional action, saying, "Mueller’s statement makes clear what those who have read his report know: It is an impeachment referral, and it’s up to Congress to act. They should."

Former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeColorado GOP Rep. Scott Tipton defeated in primary upset Clinton, Buttigieg among Democrats set to hold virtual events for Biden Redistricting: 'The next decade of our democracy is on the ballot' in November MORE (Texas) called impeachment proceedings the only way to ensure "consequences, accountability, and justice."

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegDemocratic lawmakers call for expanding, enshrining LGBTQ rights Democrats debate Biden effort to expand map against Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems, GOP dig in on police reform ahead of House vote MORE also said Mueller's speech was "as close to an impeachment referral as it gets."

Meanwhile, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro specifically called for an impeachment inquiry.

Rep. Seth MoultonSeth MoultonHouse panel votes to constrain Afghan drawdown, ask for assessment on 'incentives' to attack US troops Overnight Defense: House panel votes to ban Confederate flag on all Pentagon property | DOD report says Russia working to speed US withdrawal from Afghanistan | 'Gang of Eight' to get briefing on bounties Thursday Democrats expect Russian bounties to be addressed in defense bill MORE (Mass.), who is also among the two dozen Democrats vying for their party's presidential nomination, tweeted that impeachment hearings should begin "tomorrow." 

"The Mueller investigation has provided the evidence. It’s up to Congress to examine that evidence and pursue justice to its conclusion, whatever that may be, regardless of the political consequences," Moulton said in an email to supporters. 

–– Updated: 2:59 p.m.