Presidential candidate Julián Castro argued fiercely during Wednesday’s primary debate for congressional Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings against President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence 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.
Castro on impeachment: "I really do believe that we can walk and chew gum at the same time. ... I think that folks are making a mistake by not pursuing impeachment"— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 1, 2019
Bennet: "I don't disagree with that, you just said it better than I did" #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/HA3aEDLnrg
“Conversely, if Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers remember Bob Dole: 'Bona fide American hero' Senate leaders face pushback on tying debt fight to defense bill Former Sen. Bob Dole dies at 98 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 BennetHickenlooper: Law preventing cannabis business banking 'a recipe for disaster' Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall Sununu exit underscores uncertain GOP path to gain Senate majority 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) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG 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 HarrisBiden cannot allow his domestic fumbles to transfer to the world stage Joe Manchin should embrace paid leave — now The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden defends disappointing jobs report 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 BookerMaternal and child health legislation must be prioritized now Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season 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 BlasioThese are the states where the omicron variant has been identified Overnight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Biden's winter COVID-19 strategy Five omicron cases detected in New York 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 BarrBill BarrHolding defiant Trump witnesses to account, Jan. 6 committee carries out Congress's constitutional role Jan. 6 panel recommends contempt charges for Trump DOJ official Appeals court questions Biden DOJ stance on Trump obstruction memo MORE and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week 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 PelosiUS expected to announce diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics soon: report Pressure grows to remove Boebert from committees Lawmakers remember Bob Dole: 'Bona fide American hero' 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.