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

Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineOvernight Defense: Trump doubles down on claim Iran attacked tankers | Iran calls accusations 'alarming' | Top nuke official quietly left Pentagon | Pelosi vows Congress will block Saudi arms sale Overnight Defense: Trump doubles down on claim Iran attacked tankers | Iran calls accusations 'alarming' | Top nuke official quietly left Pentagon | Pelosi vows Congress will block Saudi arms sale Pelosi: Congress will block Trump's arms sales to Saudi Arabia 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 TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' 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 PelosiElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw Dems eye repeal of Justice rule barring presidential indictments 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 MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump 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 TlaibHillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data House Democrats question DHS over using facial recognition tech on US citizens 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. GreenCongress should make Interior's Bernhardt 'manage the land to stop climate change' The Pentagon emits more greenhouse gases than Sweden: study The Pentagon emits more greenhouse gases than Sweden: study 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 BlumenauerFirst major 'Medicare for All' hearing sharpens attacks on both sides First major 'Medicare for All' hearing sharpens attacks on both sides Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz 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."