Top Democrats Leave Open Option of Trump Impeachment After Mueller Report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
trump investigation
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Top congressional Democrats left the door open on Sunday to the impeachment of President Donald Trump, but said they would first need to complete their own investigations into whether he obstructed justice in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

Some party leaders have cautioned against impeachment just 18 months before the 2020 presidential election, although prominent liberals have demanded the start of proceedings to remove Trump from office since the release on Thursday of a redacted version of Mueller’s report.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, whose panel would spearhead any impeachment proceedings, said Democrats would press ahead with investigations of Trump in Congress and “see where the facts lead us.”

“Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable,” Nadler said to the NBC.

Mueller also noted that Congress has the power to address whether Trump violated the law, and Democrats said it would be a matter of discussion in the coming weeks.

“That’s going to be a very consequential decision and one I’m going to reserve judgment on until we have a chance to fully deliberate on it,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said on Fox News.

Democrats in the House of Representatives planned a conference call for Monday afternoon to discuss their next steps in response to the Mueller report. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote lawmakers last week to notify them of the call “to discuss this grave matter.”

Nadler has issued a subpoena to the Justice Department to hand over the full, unredacted Mueller report and other relevant evidence by May 1, although the Justice Department called the request “premature and unnecessary.”

Before drawing any conclusions, Nadler said Democrats would want to see those materials as well as hear from Mueller and Attorney General William Barr, who is scheduled to testify in early May. Nadler also said he would call former White House counsel Donald McGahn to testify.

Republicans have stood by Trump, and Speaker Pelosi has cautioned against an impeachment effort that would have no chance of success in the Republican-led Senate.

Trump, who has repeatedly called the investigation a “witch hunt,” has claimed vindication from Mueller’s report. Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump‘s lawyers, sought to undermine the credibility of Mueller’s investigators to NBC.

“I don’t think his people are fair,” Giuliani said of Mueller’s team. “I don’t think that report is fair.”

While Trump‘s team had indicated it would release a rebuttal to Mueller’s report, Giuliani said that was not imminent although it would probably be released at some point.

“We planned to do it if we needed to. So far, we don’t think we need to,” he said on Fox News Sunday.