Deutch joins impeachment effort he says has 'already begun'

Deutch joins impeachment effort he says has 'already begun'
© Greg Nash

A senior member of the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday joined the growing list of Democrats backing the effort to impeach President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren: Dershowitz presentation 'nonsensical,' 'could not follow it' Bolton told Barr he was concerned Trump did favors for autocrats: report Dershowitz: Bolton allegations would not constitute impeachable offense MORE.

Rep. Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchUS officials, world leaders arrive in Israel for World Holocaust Forum  Bipartisan lawmakers condemn Iran, dispute State Department on number of protesters killed Bipartisan lawmakers introduce amendment affirming US commitment to military aid to Israel MORE, a five-term Florida Democrat, cited the "damning conclusions" contained in former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE's report on Russian election interference as the basis for jumping onto the impeachment bandwagon.

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"The remedies for presidential misconduct, including impeachment, are in Congress’s hands," Deutch wrote in an op-ed for the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

There is plenty of nuance, however, to Deutch's position. While scores of Democrats are clamoring for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse passes bill aimed at bolstering Holocaust education Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — NFL social media accounts hacked | Dem questions border chief over controversial Facebook group | Clinton says Zuckerberg has 'authoritarian' views Meadows: Republicans who break with Trump could face political repercussions MORE (D-Calif.) and Judiciary Committee leaders to launch a formal impeachment inquiry — or even stage a floor vote on official articles of impeachment — Deutch says the panel has effectively started the process already.

"The Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole authority of impeachment. Officially launching an impeachment inquiry has never been a prerequisite to using that authority," Deutch wrote. "The Judiciary Committee may refer articles of impeachment to the whole House for a vote at any time."

He's citing changes to the Judiciary Committee rules, adopted under a Republican majority in 2015, granting the panel broad new investigation powers — including the issuance of subpoenas — that make the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry unnecessary as the Democrats dig into Mueller's report.

"No additional step is required," he wrote. "No magic words need to be uttered on the House floor. No vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry is necessary."

With that, Deutch joins other leaders of the Judiciary Committee, including Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerPelosi says House will vote on bill to repeal travel ban Nadler to miss a day of impeachment trial due to wife's cancer treatment Impeachment manager dismisses concerns Schiff alienated key Republican votes: 'This isn't about any one person' MORE (D-N.Y.), in arguing that Democrats have effectively started the impeachment process — a claim they're using as the basis for obtaining Mueller-related documents and witness testimony through the courts.

The strategy appears designed to strike a balance between appeasing the impeachment supporters, who say Trump is unfit for office and should have already been ousted, and protecting vulnerable Democrats from a tough vote heading into difficult reelection races next year.

Even so, a Deutch spokesman clarified Thursday that the Florida Democrat would vote for a formal inquiry if one were considered.

"While he believes that there’s no need for a formal vote to open an inquiry and that we’ve been in one since the Committee started its investigation, he would support a vote to do so," the spokesman said in an email.

Deutch's endorsement brings the number of Democrats backing impeachment up to 114, just four shy of a caucus majority, according to a tally being kept by The Hill.

Updated at 11:26 a.m.