Castro argues for impeachment: We'll tell voters 'Moscow Mitch' let him off

Castro argues for impeachment: We'll tell voters 'Moscow Mitch' let him off
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Presidential candidate Julián Castro argued fiercely during Wednesday’s primary debate for congressional Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings against President TrumpDonald John TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' MORE, saying it would play in Trump’s favor if they don't.

“If they don’t impeach him, he’s going to say, ‘The Democrats didn’t go after me on impeachment, and you know why? I didn’t do anything wrong,’” said Castro, who served as secretary of House and Urban Development under former President Obama.




“Conversely, if Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell rejects Democrats' 'radical movement' to abolish filibuster Hickenlooper announces Senate bid Trump orders elimination of student loan debt for thousands of disabled veterans MORE lets him off, we’re going to say, sure. They impeached him in the House, his friend [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell — ‘Moscow Mitch’ — let him off the hook,” Castro said, referring to the Kentucky Republican.

Even if the House successfully votes to impeach Trump, it would be certain to fail in the Republican-controlled Senate. 

Castro was responding to Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes The Hill's Morning Report - Trump searches for backstops amid recession worries Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report MORE (D-Colo.), who suggested Democrats needed to be careful in starting impeachment proceedings, especially as it gets closer to the Iowa caucuses, because, Bennet said, the president would trumpet an acquittal.

The 10 candidates on stage Wednesday were asked about former 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 report and potential impeachment at the end of the second July debate. The topic did not come up during Tuesday night’s debate.

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisPoll shows Biden, Warren tied with Trump in Arizona Rising Warren faces uphill climb with black voters Inslee drops out of 2020 presidential race MORE (D-Calif.), a former prosecutor, defended her past comments that her Justice Department would likely pursue charges against Trump over obstruction of justice. 

Harris said she would “never direct” the department to pursue a case against anyone, but argued there are “10 clear instances of obstruction of justice” by Trump laid out in Volume II of Mueller’s report. 

“The reality is I have seen people go to prison for far less,” Harris said. “No one is above the law, including the president of the United States.” 

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOvernight Defense: Two US service members killed in Afghanistan | Trump calls on other nations to take up fight against ISIS | Pentagon scraps billion-dollar missile defense program ABC unveils moderators for third Democratic debate Sanders targets gig economy as part of new labor plan MORE (D-N.J.) argued for Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump in order to hold him accountable for acting as an “authoritarian.”

“We took an oath to uphold this Constitution,” Booker said. “The politics of this be damned.”

New York Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioMayor de Blasio, the small business killer The Hill's Morning Report - Trump touts new immigration policy, backtracks on tax cuts De Blasio's video snafu earns laughter in Iowa MORE (D) agreed that Trump has “committed crimes worthy of impeachment” but urged Democrats to be wary not to ignore addressing pressing issues for the American people.

“Move for impeachment, but don’t forget to do the people’s business,” de Blasio said. 

Mueller’s report details nearly a dozen instances of potential obstruction of justice by Trump, but the former special counsel did not reach a conclusion either way on whether Trump obstructed the Russia investigation. His report pointedly declines to exonerate Trump on obstruction allegations.

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrBarr says he has seen 'nothing' to undercut Epstein autopsy findings Prosecutors are mainly to blame for the criminal justice crisis The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes MORE and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Rosenstein10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall Why the presumption of innocence doesn't apply to Trump McCabe sues FBI, DOJ, blames Trump for his firing MORE judged the evidence insufficient to accuse Trump of criminal wrongdoing.

However, Democrats have argued the report contains clear evidence that Trump committed crimes and would have been charged if not for the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel opinion stating a sitting president cannot be indicted.

The number of Democrats supporting a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump has ticked up in the wake of Mueller’s public congressional testimony last week. 

The House Judiciary Committee has filed an application seeking the grand jury material underlying Mueller’s report, saying the panel needs it to decide whether to recommend articles of impeachment against Trump. 

Still, House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCutting tariffs is better than cutting payroll taxes to boost the economy Pelosi speaks with Israeli president after Trump controversy In debate over internet speech law, pay attention to whose voices are ignored MORE (D-Calif.) has remained against beginning formal impeachment proceedings, saying Democrats need to focus on their investigations of Trump and his administration and related court battles.