WASHINGTON — A senior member of the Democratic Party said Sunday that the evidence of obstruction by US President Donald Trump detailed in the special counsel’s report is impeachable if proven.
Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York chairs the House committee that would hold impeachment proceedings.
Nadler said it is up to Congress to investigate the 10 allegations of Trump’s attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation that special counsel Robert Mueller laid out in his report, but left open whether Trump broke the law.
Asked whether the offenses are impeachable, Nadler told NBC, “If proven, some of this would be impeachable, yes.”
Nadler said Democrats’ focus is to “go where the evidence leads us.”
Democratic leaders are under pressure from the party’s rising stars and some presidential contenders to start impeachment proceedings. House Democrats will confer Monday on next steps.
Representative Adam Schiff, a leading Democratic lawmaker who chairs the House intelligence committee, said that since Republicans control the Senate — and would likely block an effort to oust Trump — Democrats face a quandary after special counsel Robert Mueller found no coordination between Russia and the Trump election campaign, but cited 10 episodes of potential obstruction involving Trump.
“We will have to decide, do we nonetheless go through an impeachment — because to do otherwise would signal that somehow this president’s conduct is okay, that future presidents can engage in this kind of corruption without consequence — or do we decide that we are better off doing oversight… rather than a formal impeachment,” Schiff told Fox News.
“That’s going to be a very consequential decision” and one that would be made “over the next couple weeks,” Schiff said.
The mixed message from the 448-page Mueller report has left Democrats weighing difficult options.
Some say impeachment — which requires a simple-majority vote in the Democratic-controlled House, but then a two-thirds vote in the Republican Senate — would give Trump a chance to rally his base supporters behind claims he has been vindicated and is now being unfairly harassed.
They point to the 1998 impeachment of Bill Clinton, which fell short in the Senate, but left that Democratic president more popular than ever.
Other Democrats say that Mueller provided sufficient evidence of Trump’s obstructive intent that it would be a failure of Democrats’ will and civic duty not to seek impeachment.
So far, only two of the 18 declared Democratic presidential candidates — Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Obama cabinet member Julian Castro — have called for impeachment.
“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,” Warren said in a tweet Friday.
But House speaker Nancy Pelosi has been wary of taking such an explosive step, urging fellow Democrats to wait until they are able to see a full and unredacted version of the Mueller report.