Dems revive impeachment talk after latest Cohen bombshell

Democrats are calling the latest bombshell allegation against President TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE — that he ordered his personal attorney to lie to Congress — the most damning yet, with several raising the possibility of impeachment, or even resignation, less than a month into the new Congress.

Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineForeign Affairs chairman: US military intervention in Venezuela 'not an option' Greedy tort bar tarts up the CREATES Act Whitaker takes grilling from House lawmakers MORE (R.I.), the head of House Democrats’ messaging arm, said on CNN on Friday that the allegations laid out in a Thursday BuzzFeed report, if true, are “the most serious threat to the Trump presidency that we've seen so far,” as well as an “impeachable offense.”  

At least one House Judiciary Committee member, Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Push for cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill | Court lets Dems defend ObamaCare | Flu season not as severe as last year, CDC says Democrats seek cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Utah tests Trump on Medicaid expansion | Dems roll out Medicare buy-in proposal | Medicare for all could get hearing next month | Doctors group faces political risks on guns MORE (D-Wash.), a top progressive leader, said the report suggests Trump obstructed justice. “That’s a federal crime,” she said.

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And Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroGOP senator voices concern about Trump order, hasn't decided whether he'll back it Dems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Ocasio-Cortez, Castro plan to introduce bill to block national emergency MORE (D-Texas), a member of the Intelligence Committee and twin brother of presidential hopeful Julián Castro, said Trump “must resign or be impeached” if the story is accurate.

The explosive allegations as reported by BuzzFeed — that Trump personally directed Cohen to lie to Congress about the timing of negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow — ramp up the stakes for a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing featuring Cohen slated for next month.

Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, notably did not try to undermine the BuzzFeed story during a Friday appearance on MSNBC's "Meet the Press Daily."

"You have in the past denied others or corrected the record when something has been wrong," host Chuck Todd pointed out.

"[Cohen] had nothing to do with the writing of the story. He didn't initiate the story. It was done by independent reporting. So the story stands on its own," Davis said, while neither explicitly confirming nor denying the story.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani denied the allegations on Friday, saying in a statement that "Any suggestion — from any source — that the President counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false.”

Trump said on Twitter on Friday that his former self-described "fixer" was "lying to reduce his jail time." Cohen was convicted last year of charges including bank fraud and campaign finance violations — actions he also said he took at Trump's behest.

Virginia Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSchiff: Evidence of collusion between Trump campaign, Russia 'pretty compelling' The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears Steel lobby's PR blitz can't paper over damaging effects of tariffs MORE, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, also said Friday that he expects Cohen to return for another closed-door appearance in early February.

“We are in conversations with him,” Warner told reporters.

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But top Democratic leaders are showing more caution as they seek to temper expectations. House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Dems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Winners and losers in the border security deal MORE (Md.) sidestepped the question when asked by reporters if the allegations change the calculus on impeachment, replying: “I don’t want to get into that right now.”

“We’ll see what Mr. Cohen has to say” at the hearing, Hoyer said.

The impeachment talk, amid a grueling shutdown showdown between Trump and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiThe national emergency will haunt Republicans come election season On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win MORE (D-Calif.), underscores the political perils ahead for the Republican president under the new Democratic House majority.

Pelosi has sought to set a high bar for impeachment despite calls from liberals in her caucus agitating for action.

“If there's to be grounds for impeachment of President Trump – and I’m not seeking those grounds – that would have to be so clearly bipartisan in terms of acceptance of it before I think we should go down any impeachment path,” Pelosi told USA Today shortly before becoming Speaker.

Democrats, who just regained control of the House on Jan. 3, now have subpoena power that Republicans chose not to deploy against the White House and Trump administration over the past two years.

Beyond the Oversight hearing with Cohen next month, chairmen of the Intelligence and Judiciary committees both pledged to investigate the matter.

“As a counterintelligence concern of the greatest magnitude, and given that these alleged efforts were intended to interfere with our investigation, our Committee is determined to get to the bottom of this,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffWhite House, GOP defend Trump emergency declaration Schiff: Evidence of collusion between Trump campaign, Russia 'pretty compelling' Schiff: 'Hard to imagine a poorer case' than Trump's on emergency declaration MORE (D-Calif.) said.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said that the allegations that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress is only the latest example of appearing to obstruct justice, which his panel will investigate. Democrats have already pointed to Trump’s firing of James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE as director of the FBI in May 2017 as a previous example of potential obstruction of justice.

“We know that the president has engaged in a long pattern of obstruction,” Nadler said.

Republicans in Congress largely avoided commenting on the report.

But one Republican member of the Oversight and Reform Committee, Michigan Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashBusiness, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration House approves motion condemning anti-Semitism Schiff: Intel chiefs testimony may ‘undermine’ Trump’s ability to declare emergency for wall MORE, called it “an extremely serious allegation” that needs confirmation beyond the unnamed federal law enforcement officials cited by BuzzFeed.

Trump’s nominee for attorney general, William Barr, even faced questions this week during his confirmation hearings about whether a president who tells someone to commit perjury is obstructing justice.

“So if there was some reason to believe that the president tried to coach somebody not to testify or testify falsely, that could be obstruction of justice,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: More urgent for kids in Kentucky to have secure border than new school 
 White House, GOP defend Trump emergency declaration Limbaugh calls 25th Amendment discussions 'silent coup' MORE (R-S.C.) said.

“Yes,” Barr replied without hesitation.

Asked by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) whether a president could be indicted, Barr responded: “For 40 years, the position of the executive branch has been you can’t indict a sitting president. … I see no reason to change it.”

Thursday night’s BuzzFeed report, which set tongues wagging all across Washington and on Twitter, came in the wake of a cascade of shocking developments in the Russia investigation this month.

This week, Giuliani told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that he never said no one in the 2016 Trump campaign colluded with Russia, contradicting months of statements from the president that there was “no collusion.”

Last week, The New York Times reported that the FBI had begun investigating whether Trump was secretly working on behalf of Russia after he fired Comey.

And earlier this month, a court filing revealed that Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortMueller subpoenas former Cambridge Analytica employee Make the special counsel report public for the sake of Americans Paul Manafort should not be sentenced to 20 years in prison MORE, had shared polling data with a business associate with ties to Russian intelligence in the heat of the 2016 campaign.

“This stunning Trump Tower Moscow story establishes a clear case of Obstruction of Justice, a felony. I've lost count now how many times @realDonaldTrump has engaged in Obstruction of Justice,” Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuKamala Harris shopping trip stirs Twitter campaign trail debate Newsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Hispanic civil rights icon endorses Harris for president MORE (D-Calif.), a Judiciary Committee member and vocal Trump critic, wrote on Twitter, adding: “Oh, fyi the first Article of Impeachment for Richard Nixon was Obstruction of Justice.”

The response to the latest allegations on Friday came as Democrats moved in recent days to start delivering on their promised oversight of the Trump administration.

The Cohen hearing on Feb. 7 won’t be the only high-wattage event of the week on Capitol Hill.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is slated to testify before the House Judiciary Committee the next day, where he’s likely to get questions about obstruction of justice.

Lieu made a prediction: Trump "is really, really not going to like the House Judiciary Committee this year."