Gillibrand calls for impeachment hearings on Trump

Gillibrand calls for impeachment hearings on Trump
© Greg Nash

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandCastro qualifies for next Democratic primary debates The Hill's Morning Report - Trump searches for backstops amid recession worries 2020 Democrats react to NYPD firing of officer in Garner case: 'Finally' MORE (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday joined the chorus of Democratic presidential candidates calling for the House to begin impeachment proceedings against President TrumpDonald John TrumpFacebook releases audit on conservative bias claims Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Recessions happen when presidents overlook key problems MORE, saying that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE made it clear that Congress should move forward with hearings on the president’s conduct.

“The White House has repeatedly stonewalled Congress' ability to take basic fact-finding steps and make an informed decision,” Gillibrand said in a statement. “Combined with the fact that Robert Mueller clearly expects Congress to exercise its constitutional authority and take steps that he could not, it's time for Republicans and Democrats to begin impeachment hearings and follow the facts wherever they may lead.”

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Gillibrand’s remarks came hours after Mueller said at a news conference at the Department of Justice (DOJ) that his office did not charge the president with a crime as a result of its two-year investigation, saying it was “not an option” under existing DOJ guidelines.

He also said that his team would have explicitly stated that Trump did not commit a crime if investigators had “confidence” that that was the case. Ultimately, the special counsel’s office did not uncover sufficient evidence to conclude that Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia to sway the 2016 presidential election, and declined to make a determination on whether the president sought to obstruct the probe.

But Mueller’s news conference marked a turning point for Gillibrand, who had previously sided with Democratic congressional leaders in saying that more investigating needed to be done before a determination on impeachment could be made.

“We cannot let this president defy basic accountability measures built into our Constitution,” she said Wednesday.

Gillibrand is the latest Democratic presidential hopeful to demand that the House move forward with impeachment hearings for Trump. Earlier on Wednesday, Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerCastro qualifies for next Democratic primary debates Eight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report MORE (D-N.J.) called for Congress to begin the process “immediately.”

Trump has seized on Mueller’s report released last month and this week's news conference to claim that he has been exonerated by the two-year probe. In fact, Mueller’s report stated that investigators could not clear Trump on the issue of whether he obstructed justice.

Still, Democratic presidential hopefuls have approached the issue of impeachment cautiously. While many left-leaning activists and progressives have called for Trump’s removal from office, some party leaders have warned that beginning the impeachment process could cause political blowback by energizing the president’s base heading into the 2020 election.