Dems revive impeachment talk after latest Cohen bombshell

Democrats are calling the latest bombshell allegation against President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: 'If you can do Walmart,' then 'we absolutely can do schools' NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government's 'checkbook' Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' 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 CicillineNadler: Barr dealings with Berman came 'awfully close to bribery' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: DOJ whistleblower says California emissions probe was 'abuse of authority' | EPA won't defend policy blocking grantees from serving on boards | Minnesota sues Exxon, others over climate change DOJ whistleblower: California emissions probe was 'abuse of authority' 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 JayapalDemocrats fear US already lost COVID-19 battle Progressive lawmakers call for conditions on Israel aid Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down 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 CastroSteyer endorses Markey in Massachusetts Senate primary Hispanic Caucus formally endorses George Floyd Justice in Policing Act Technical difficulties mar several remote House hearings 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 WarnerGOP chairman vows to protect whistleblowers following Vindman retirement over 'bullying' Senators press IRS chief on stimulus check pitfalls Hillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats 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 HoyerMexico's president uses US visit to tout ties with Trump Amy Kennedy wins NJ primary to face GOP's Van Drew House Democrat calls for 'real adult discussion' on lawmaker pay 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 PelosiAs coronavirus surges, Trump tries to dismantle healthcare for millions Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus poses questions about school safety; Trump commutes Roger Stone sentence Pelosi plans legislation to limit pardons, commutations after Roger Stone move 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 SchiffSunday shows preview: Coronavirus poses questions about school safety; Trump commutes Roger Stone sentence Pelosi plans legislation to limit pardons, commutations after Roger Stone move Trump defends Roger Stone move: He was target of 'Witch Hunt' 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 ComeyTrump on possible Roger Stone pardon: 'His prayer may be answered' How conservative conspiracy theories are deepening America's political divide Bolton book sells 780,000 copies in first week, set to surpass 1M copies printed 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 AmashDemocrats fear US already lost COVID-19 battle Michigan candidate's daughter urges people not to vote for him in viral tweet Can Trump break his 46 percent ceiling? 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 GrahamRomney blasts Trump's Stone commutation: 'Historic corruption' Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump backs another T stimulus, urges governors to reopen schools 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 ManafortThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump turns to immigration; primary day delays expected GOP votes to give Graham broad subpoena power in Obama-era probe Will the 'law and order' president pardon Roger Stone? 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. LieuMilley confirms soldiers deployed to DC amid unrest were given bayonets Trump campaign touts 4M online viewers for Tulsa rally Trump mocked for low attendance at rally 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."