House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler called President Trump’s repeated efforts to thwart the investigation as outlined in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report potential grounds for impeachment.
“If proven, some of this would be impeachable, yes,” Nadler, D-N.Y., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable.”
“There is plenty of evidence of obstruction” in the 448-page Mueller report, said Nadler, who heads the committee through which an impeachment process would begin. The redacted report, which was released Thursday, detailed the two-year investigation into connections between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government and “related matters” including possible obstruction of the investigation by Trump and his associates.
While the probe found no conspiracy and drew no conclusions about charging Trump with obstruction, the redacted report detailed “multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations.”
“The incidents were often carried out through one-on-one meetings in which the President sought to use his official power outside of usual channels,” read the report. “These actions ranged from efforts to remove the Special Counsel and to reverse the effect of the Attorney General’s recusal; to the attempted use of official power to limit the scope of the investigation; to direct and indirect contacts with witnesses with the potential to influence their testimony.”
Mueller wrote that “the President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”
One official singled out is former White House counsel Don McGahn, who according to Mueller’s report refused to follow up on a request from Trump to have the special counsel removed. Nadler said that he plans to call McGahn to testify before his committee. Even before the report was released, he requested Mueller to testify.
William Barr, U.S. attorney general, center, speaks as Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general, right, and Ed O’Callaghan, principal deputy assistant Attorney General, listen during a news conference at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, April 18, 2019. Barr is set to release a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report today, and the document could leave everyone unsatisfied, President Donald Trump, lawmakers and the public. Photographer: Erik Lesser/Pool via Bloomberg
William Barr, U.S. attorney general, left, speaks as Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general, listens during a news conference at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, April 18, 2019. Barr is set to release a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report today, and the document could leave everyone unsatisfied, President Donald Trump, lawmakers and the public. Photographer: Erik Lesser/Pool via Bloomberg
Nadler did not say he was ready to begin the impeachment process. “We may get to that, we may not,” he said. “It is our job to go through all the evidence, all the information we can get, and to go where the evidence leads us.”
Nadler said he wants to first hear from Mueller, presumably about why no obstruction charges were brought against Trump. In his report, Mueller lays out numerous instances in which Trump tried to stymie, limit or end the investigation, but said he was constrained by Justice Department policy against indicting a sitting president.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed to members Thursday that “Congress will not be silent.” But so far she has not backed the calls for impeachment.
On Friday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who is running for president, called on the House to initiate impeachment proceedings.
“Mueller put the next step in the hands of Congress: ‘Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.’ The correct process for exercising that authority is impeachment,” Warren wrote on Twitter.
“To ignore a President’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways,” she continued.
In contrast to Warren, 2020 candidate Rep. Tim Ryan told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that he did not support impeachment right now, although he said he believed the president obstructed justice.
“It’s pretty clear that the president obstructed on several different occasions,” said Ryan, an Ohio Democrat. “This is very, very, very serious. I believe that the first step is to have Jerry Nadler continue to open up this investigation to better understand this. We are just getting this document. Let the Judiciary Committee look at this. There is a process in place here.
“Let the process play itself out.”
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