Following special counsel Robert Mueller’s statement on Wednesday about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls increased their calls for Congress to launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
The candidates quickly parsed Mueller’s remarks for clues that could bolster an impeachment case. When describing the inquiry into whether Trump obstructed justice by attempting to interfere with the Russia investigation, Mueller reiterated that his office followed Justice Department policy forbidding charging a sitting president with a crime. The Constitution provides a “process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse the president of wrongdoing,” he said, referencing the role of Congress in conducting impeachment proceedings.
Sen. Kamala Harris of California tweeted that “what Mueller basically did was return an impeachment referral. Now it is up to Congress to hold this president accountable.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said Mueller’s remarks “made clear what those who have read his report know: It is an impeachment referral, and it’s up to Congress to act.”
Other 2020 Democratic contenders had already called for impeachment, including U.S. Reps. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Eric Swalwell of California, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, and Mayor Wayne Messam of Miramar, Fla.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., continued to throw water on talk of impeachment. She said that though moving forward with impeachment is not “off the table,” it is not in the immediate future. “We do want to make such a compelling case, such an ironclad case that even the Republican Senate, which at the time seems to be not as objective … will be convinced,” she said Wednesday at an event at the Commonwealth Club of California.
Pelosi also downplayed how many lawmakers are calling for impeachment, saying, “Yes, there are some, and the press makes more of a fuss about the 38 than the 200, who are over half of the Congress.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is also running for the Democratic nomination, told The New York Times that he “agrees with Speaker Pelosi that no one would relish what would certainly be a divisive impeachment process.” —H.P.