Democrats leave impeachment on the table

Democrats leave impeachment on the table
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Top Democrats are making it clear they're open to pursuing impeachment against President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist MORE even if the effort is likely to be unsuccessful, days after the release of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats 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 report on Russian election interference.

Three Democratic committee chairmen on Sunday discussed the possibility of impeachment proceedings, while emphasizing that a decision won't be made overnight, as their party must deliberate on the contents of Mueller's report and the underlying evidence.

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffJudge finds Stone violated gag order, blocks him from using social media The peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Trump knocks Mueller after deal struck for him to testify MORE (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said they'll have to decide soon "what is the best thing for the country" when it comes to impeachment. House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsLawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens House poised to hold Barr, Ross in contempt Trump's family separation policy has taken US to 'lowest depth possible,' says former immigration lawyer MORE (D-Md.), meanwhile, said that even though an impeachment effort would likely be unsuccessful, "there comes a point in life where we all have to make decisions based upon the fact that it is our watch."

"Impeachment is likely to be unsuccessful" without bipartisan consensus, Schiff said on ABC. The comment was in reference to warnings by Democratic leaders like House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Will Trump's racist tweets backfire? Al Green: 'We have the opportunity to punish' Trump with impeachment vote MORE (D-Calif.) that impeachment would divide the country.

But Schiff added that "it may be that we undertake an impeachment nonetheless." 

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Mueller's 22-month long investigation did not find evidence of coordination between President Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia, but it did detail several cases of potential obstruction of justice.

Those episodes included Trump's firing of FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyFBI's spreadsheet puts a stake through the heart of Steele's dossier Hannity invites Ocasio-Cortez to join prime-time show for full hour The Hill's 12:30 Report: Acosta under fire over Epstein plea deal MORE and efforts to deny that he ordered then-White House counsel Don McGahn to demand the special counsel be removed.

After reviewing 10 examples that could constitute obstruction, Mueller did not reach a conclusion on the issue, but did mention that Congress has the authority to conduct obstruction of justice investigations.

“With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has the authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice,” Mueller wrote in his more than 400-page report. 

Mueller added that he reached this conclusion after his office set out to examine the past legal precedent governing such matters because the Department of Justice (DOJ) and courts have “not definitively resolved these issues."

"We therefore examined those issues through the framework established by the Supreme Court precedent governing separation-of-powers issues," he wrote.

Subsequently, some Democrats like Schiff have not shied away from suggesting impeachment proceedings could be undertaken to make a determination on obstruction of justice. 

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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerTrump knocks Mueller after deal struck for him to testify House Democrats request briefing on Epstein, Acosta Nadler apologized after repeatedly calling Hope Hicks 'Ms. Lewandowski' at hearing MORE (D-N.Y.) refused to rule out proceedings on Sunday.

He told NBC's "Meet the Press" that Congress will have to receive an unredacted copy of Mueller's report and “have to hear from” Mueller and Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrImmigration advocacy groups sue Trump administration over asylum restrictions Webb: Questions for Robert Mueller Groups sue Trump admin over new asylum restrictions MORE before reaching a determination on impeachment.

“Some of this would be impeachable,” Nadler said, referring to Trump's actions laid out in Mueller's report. “Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable," he added.

Cummings said "history would smile upon [the House] for standing up for the Constitution" if impeachment proceedings are started during an appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation." 

Other Democrats have more explicitly called for impeachment.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHarris tops Biden in California 2020 poll The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Democrats fret over Trump cash machine MORE (D-Mass.) became the first major 2020 presidential candidate to wade into the issue Friday when she called for impeachment proceedings.

"The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States," Warren tweeted.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOmar responds to 'send her back' chant with Maya Angelou quote Trump blasts minority Democrats, rally crowd chants 'send her back' Trump refers to Ocasio-Cortez as just 'Cortez' because it 'takes too much time' to say full name MORE (D-N.Y.) said Thursday she would sign on to Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibBen Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist Trump thanks 'vicious young Socialist Congresswomen' for his poll numbers House expected to vote Wednesday on Green's impeachment effort MORE's (D-Mich.) resolution to examine whether Trump committed impeachable offenses.

But several prominent Democrats have thrown cold water on impeachment talks.

Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment White House, Congress inch toward debt, budget deal House to test Trump's veto pen on Saudi arms sales MORE (D-Md.) have urged members of their party to pump the brakes on the proceedings.

Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John Ryan2020 Democrats call Trump's tweets about female Democrats racist 3 reasons billionaire activist Tom Steyer is running for president ProPublica to fund reporter to cover Youngstown, Ohio, after newspaper folds MORE (D-Ohio), another 2020 candidate, agreed with Democratic leadership on Sunday.

"This is very, very, very serious. I believe that the first step is to have Rep. Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerTrump knocks Mueller after deal struck for him to testify House Democrats request briefing on Epstein, Acosta Nadler apologized after repeatedly calling Hope Hicks 'Ms. Lewandowski' at hearing MORE (D-N.Y.) continue to open up this investigation to better understand this. We are just getting this document," Ryan said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” stressing the need to "educate" the public. 

Trump and his team have taken a victory lap following the report's release, calling the results total and complete exoneration.