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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 Trump, 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.

 

 

{mosads}“Conversely, if Mitch McConnell 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 Bennet (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 Mueller’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 Harris (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 Booker (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 Blasio (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 Barr and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein 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 Pelosi (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.

Tags 2020 2020 campaign 2020 election Bill de Blasio Cory Booker Democratic debates Donald Trump Julian Castro Michael Bennet Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Robert Mueller Rod Rosenstein William Barr

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