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 TrumpMost Americans break with Trump on Ukraine, but just 45 percent think he should be removed: poll Judge orders Democrats to give notice if they request Trump's NY tax returns Trump's doctor issues letter addressing 'speculation' about visit to Walter Reed MORE after special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE spoke publicly for the first time about his investigation.

Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerJayapal hits back at Biden on marijuana 'prohibition' Poll: Biden holds 20-point lead in South Carolina Fox News anchor apologizes for saying Booker dropped out of 2020 race MORE (N.J.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandMaloney primary challenger calls on her to return, donate previous campaign donations from Trump Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee She Should Run launches initiative to expand number of women in political process MORE (N.Y.) joined fellow Democratic Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisJayapal hits back at Biden on marijuana 'prohibition' Poll: Biden holds 20-point lead in South Carolina Fox News anchor apologizes for saying Booker dropped out of 2020 race MORE (Calif.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenRahm Emanuel: Bloomberg, Patrick entering race will allow Democrats to have 'ideas primary' Feehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds Jayapal hits back at Biden on marijuana 'prohibition' 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 BarrWilliam Pelham BarrGOP rep predicts watchdog report on alleged FISA abuses will find 'problems' Barr defends Trump's use of executive authority, slams impeachment hearings GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse 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'RourkeDeval Patrick enters 2020 race O'Rourke says he 'absolutely' plans to stay in politics Krystal Ball: Buttigieg is 'the boomer candidate' MORE (Texas) called impeachment proceedings the only way to ensure "consequences, accountability, and justice."

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegThe Memo: Centrists change tone of Democratic race Poll: Biden holds 20-point lead in South Carolina Sanders reclaims second place in new 2020 poll 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 MoultonPardoning war crimes dishonors the military The Hill's Morning Report - Fallout from day one of Trump impeachment hearing We still owe LGBT veterans for their patriotism and service 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.