Top House Dem calls to launch impeachment inquiry if McGahn skips testimony

Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineFirst House Republican backs bill banning assault weapons Hillicon Valley: O'Rourke proposal targets tech's legal shield | Dem wants public review of FCC agreement with T-Mobile, Sprint | Voters zero in on cybersecurity | Instagram to let users flag misinformation Democrat calls for public review of T-Mobile-Sprint merger agreement MORE (D-R.I.) is raising the stakes surrounding the Trump administration's stonewalling of House Democrats, calling for an impeachment inquiry against President TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham: America must 'accept the pain that comes in standing up to China' Weld 'thrilled' more Republicans are challenging Trump New data challenges Trump's economic narrative MORE if former White House counsel Don McGahn declines to testify before Congress on Tuesday.

"If Don McGahn does not testify tomorrow, it will be time to begin an impeachment inquiry of @realDonaldTrump," Cicilline tweeted. 

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If he follows through on the threat, Cicilline, the head of the Democrats' messaging arm, would be the highest-ranking Democrat to endorse a formal effort to launch the process of ousting of the president — a campaign that Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi11 Essential reads you missed this week Pelosi asks Democrats for 'leverage' on impeachment Is there internet life after thirty? MORE (D-Calif.) and other party leaders have sought to suppress since Trump took office more than two years ago. 

An overwhelming majority of Democrats support Pelosi's strategy, agreeing that impeachment is premature without more public support. They're pushing a series of aggressive investigations into the administration, including probes related to 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's investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 elections.

Yet the drumbeat toward impeachment has grown louder since Mueller's report was released. And the administration's aggressive resistance to cooperating with the Democrats' investigations has caused more and more lawmakers to inch in that direction. The McGahn episode marks the latest case. 

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee had issued a subpoena to compel McGahn's appearance before the panel to discuss Mueller's investigation. But Trump has vowed the administration will be "fighting all the subpoenas," and the Justice Department made good on that promise on Monday, releasing a 15-page letter asserting that McGahn is not "legally required" to appear. 

Cicilline, a Judiciary Committee member, has for months declined to endorse the push for impeaching Trump, and he voted against two impeachment-related measures on the House floor in late 2017 and early 2018. But the possibility of McGahn defying the Democrats' subpoena appears to be his tipping point. 

Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibTlaib says Trump 'scared' of 'Squad' Michigan city declines to renew contract with ICE to hold detainees Former GOP Rep. Jason Lewis says he'll challenge Tina Smith in Minnesota MORE (D-Mich.) had introduced a resolution in March requiring the Judiciary Committee to begin looking into impeachment. Before Mueller's report became public, only Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenMeat is taxing the planet, so we should tax meat Danish prime minister: Trump's idea to buy Greenland 'absurd'  Juan Williams: Democrats finally hit Trump where it hurts MORE (D-Texas) had endorsed her bill. After the report was released, six others quickly signed on. 

The resolution does not launch impeachment, per se, but asks the Judiciary Committee to investigate the president for potentially impeachable offenses. Supporters say it puts a finer point on the probes into potential administrative wrongdoing — and would lay the groundwork if the probes turn-up behavior that makes impeachment inevitable. 

"It's seems clear to me that we need to be able to get to the bottom of this thing. The administration clearly is not going to help at all making it harder to be able to wade through this," said Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerAirports already have plenty of infrastructure funding Climate protesters glue themselves to Capitol doors, confront lawmakers Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment MORE (D-Ore), who has endorsed Tlaib's bill.

"Our job, is to be able to explore the ramifications, lay the foundation for what might happen, and if you don't lay the foundation, it won't."