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 TrumpHarris stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia On The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — The Facebook Oversight Board is not pleased MORE after special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE spoke publicly for the first time about his investigation.

Sens. Cory BookerCory BookerSenate Democrats call for diversity among new Federal Reserve Bank presidents Progressives push back on decision to shrink Biden's paid family leave program Emanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing MORE (N.J.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandProposals to reform supports for parents face chopping block Under pressure, Democrats cut back spending The Memo: Cuts to big bill vex Democrats MORE (N.Y.) joined fellow Democratic Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia Biden, Harris mark 10th anniversary of MLK memorial Watch live: Biden, Harris deliver remarks at MLK Jr. Memorial anniversary MORE (Calif.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats scramble to reach deal on taxes Ethics office warned officials about unnecessary trades Fed imposes tougher rules on financial trades amid scandal 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."

ADVERTISEMENT

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 BarrMeadows hires former deputy AG to represent him in Jan. 6 probe: report Why it's time for conservatives to accept the 2020 election results and move on Bannon's subpoena snub sets up big decision for Biden DOJ 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'RourkeSupport for governors sliding in states without vaccine mandates: survey Abbott bans vaccine mandates from any 'entity in Texas' Abbott disapproval rating up 8 points to 59 percent in San Antonio area: poll MORE (Texas) called impeachment proceedings the only way to ensure "consequences, accountability, and justice."

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegAirlines should give flight attendants 10 hours of rest between flights: FAA GOP memo urges lawmakers to blame White House 'grinches' for Christmas delays Emanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing 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 MoultonHow lawmakers aided the Afghan evacuation GOP lawmaker says he did not threaten US Embassy staff in Tajikistan House panel approves B boost for defense budget 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.