After Mueller statement, some 2020 Democrats call for impeachment, as others strengthen anti-Trump rhetoric
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In the minutes following special counsel Robert Mueller’s public statement announcing the close of his investigation, a parade of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates weighed in with some calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump and others taking a step further in calling for immediate charges to be brought against the current occupant of the White House.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker weighed in on the impeachment proceedings against Trump, for the first time calling for the House of Representatives to begin impeachment proceedings.
“I have been asking for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony, and today he made his views clear,” he said in a statement. “Mueller said directly that it wasn’t for lack of evidence that criminal charges weren’t brought against President Trump — but because of Department of Justice policy. He made clear that it is the role of Congress to evaluate evidence against a sitting President and act accordingly.”
He added: “We have one remaining path to ensure justice is served. It is our legal and moral obligation to hold those who have committed crimes accountable. It’s clear that the House must begin impeachment proceedings. No one is above the law.”
In calling for the immediate start of impeachment proceedings, California Sen. Kamala Harris joined Booker in shifting towards a far more aggressive stance on impeachment.
“What Robert Mueller basically did was return an impeachment referral,” she wrote in a tweet. “Now it is up to Congress to hold this president accountable. We need to start impeachment proceedings. It’s our constitutional obligation.”
At a gaggle with reporters in Anderson, South Carolina, Harris added, “I think it’s a fair inference from what we heard in that press conference that Bob Mueller was essentially referring impeachment to the United States Congress,” according to CNN.
Last month she said “I believe Congress should take the steps toward impeachment,” at a CNN town hall.
Mueller on Wednesday broke more than two years of silence about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice, saying he does not intend to testify to Congress and explaining why he did not have the “option” of charging the president with a crime.
He also said that Justice Department policy prohibits charging a sitting president with a crime, calling it “unconstitutional.”
Despite the president claiming “Nothing changes from the Mueller Report … The case is closed,” in a tweet after Mueller wrapped his remarks, a chorus of Democratic contenders hoping to replace Trump in the Oval Office sounded off, repeating previous calls for impeachment proceedings to get underway.
Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign, stopping short of calling for impeachment, said that Congress should “continue to investigate.”
“What is truly troubling is that we have seen this President and this Administration engaging in flagrant, open attacks on the rule of law by throwing up roadblocks early in the stages of Congress’ investigation,” a campaign spokesperson said in a statement to ABC News. “Not only that, President Trump is now directing an extraordinary internal vendetta against law enforcement and intelligence community investigators who were doing their job.”
“Vice President Biden agrees with Speaker Pelosi that no one would relish what would certainly be a divisive impeachment process, but that it may be unavoidable if this Administration continues on its path,” the spokesperson continued.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, one of the first of the White House hopefuls to call for Trump’s impeachment, asserted on Twitter, “Mueller’s statement makes clear what those who have read his report know: It is an impeachment referral, and it’s up to Congress to act. They should.”
Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke wrote, “There must be consequences, accountability, and justice. The only way to ensure that is to begin impeachment proceedings.”
Massachusetts Congressman and former Marine Corps officer, Seth Moulton, said in a tweet, “Mueller did his job. Now it’s time to do ours. Impeachment hearings should begin tomorrow.”
Obama-era Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Julián Castro, who first signaled his support for Congress to begin an impeachment inquiry on the eve of the release of Mueller’s redacted report, tweeted, “Mueller made clear this morning that his investigation now lays at the feet of Congress. No one is above the law—Congress should begin an impeachment inquiry.”
Later, he criticized House Democrats for not acting on the issue and counters their position, arguing it is more politically prudent to act on impeachment.
“By not moving forward with impeachment, not only are you letting him get away with these ten different instances of obstruction of justice or attempting to obstruct justice that Mueller pointed out — which deserve impeachment — but politically you are also giving him a clean bill of health. So I’m convinced that this really is a mistake that Congressional Democrats are making right now,” he said on MSNBC.
But some of the Democratic competitors are taking a more cautious approach, speaking out with tepid statements that leave the question of impeachment on the doorstep of Congress, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Maryland Congressman John Delaney, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan and California Congressman Eric Swalwell, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee.
“This is as close to an impeachment referral as it gets,” Buttigieg, who has previously said the president “deserves to be impeached,” wrote in a tweet. “Robert Mueller could not clear the president, nor could he charge him — so he has handed the matter to Congress, which alone can act to deliver due process and accountability.”
Buttigieg then added during an interview with MSNBC: “The next move is up to Congress. And if we’re ever going to have any kind of due process, any kind of systemic assessment of whether there will be accountability for the president, the DOJ can’t deliver. Congress will have to do it.”
“I trust @SpeakerPelosi on the best path forward to hold the President accountable for his abuse of power, his welcoming of Russian interference, and his actions to obstruct justice,” Delaney tweeted.
Inslee said Trump and Attorney General William Barr lied about the Mueller report and said that Mueller made clear, there was “no exoneration.”
“It is clear Mueller thinks the President obstructed justice, but felt the law prohibited him from charging the President,” Ryan said on Twitter. “It’s Congress’ job to make sure we are true to our founding principle that the President is not a King and must answer to the American people.”
Swalwell called for Barr’s impeachment in a series of tweets responding to Mueller’s statement.
While the calls for impeachment grow within the Democratic primary field, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, who has been rumored for a 2020 Liberation Party presidential run and is the only Republican member of Congress to go that far, re-iterated his position again on Wednesday, tweeting, “The ball is in our court, Congress.”
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