After the latest bombshell allegation that Trump in 2017 ordered his personal attorney to lie to Congress — the most damning allegation against the president so far — many House Democrats are now saying they’ve had enough and don’t want to wait any longer for Bob Mueller to finish his report.
Yesterday several leading House members raised the possibility of impeachment, and in some cases even resignation. The consensus among these Democrats is that if it is true that Trump did commit the crime of suborning perjury then he does not belong in the White House any longer, and should leave the presidency as soon as possible.
For example, Rep. David Cicilline (R.I.), the head of House Democrats’ messaging arm, said on Friday:
“If true, this is, I think, the most serious threat to the Trump presidency that we’ve seen so far, and that’s saying something. This is obstruction of justice, if these facts are true, this is suborning perjury, I mean, there’s no question it’s an impeachable offense.”
“It’s still my preference that we await the final report of Mr. Mueller, but it becomes increasingly difficult when faced with evidence such as this. There’s really no explanation for suborning perjury, there’s no innocent explanation for telling a witness to lie to the Congress of the United States, so I think this is different.”
At least one House Judiciary Committee member, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), a top progressive leader, said the report suggests Trump obstructed justice. “That’s a federal crime,” she said.
Freshman lawmaker Rashida Tlaib also tweeted the BuzzFeed News report, with a simple “yeah, like I said…” in an apparent reference to the “impeach the motherf*cker”comment she made several weeks ago.
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) January 18, 2019
And Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), a member of the Intelligence Committee and twin brother of presidential hopeful Julián Castro, said Trump “must resign or be impeached” if the story is accurate.
If the @BuzzFeed story is true, President Trump must resign or be impeached.
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) January 18, 2019
He was joined by California Rep. Brad Sherman, who Tweeted:
— Rep. Brad Sherman (@BradSherman) January 18, 2019
The explosive allegations as reported by BuzzFeed that Trump personally directed Cohen to lie to Congress have increased the stakes for Cohen’s planned appearance before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on February 7.
Beyond the Oversight hearing with Cohen next month, chairmen of the Intelligence and Judiciary committees both pledged to investigate the matter on Friday.
“As a counterintelligence concern of the greatest magnitude, and given that these alleged efforts were intended to interfere with our investigation, our Committee is determined to get to the bottom of this,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said that the allegations that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress is only the latest example of appearing to obstruct justice, which his panel will investigate.
Democrats have already pointed to Trump’s firing of James Comey as director of the FBI in May 2017 as a previous example of potential obstruction of justice.
“We know that the president has engaged in a long pattern of obstruction,” Nadler said.
House Democratic leaders are showing caution as they seek to temper expectations for immediate impeachment proceedings. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) avoided the impeachment question when asked by reporters saying “I don’t want to get into that right now. We’ll see what Mr. Cohen has to say at the hearing.”
The impeachment talk among House Democrats is ramping up as the shutdown showdown between Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi is growing increasingly nasty.
Pelosi has previously set a high bar for impeachment, however, despite calls from many within her caucus who want action taken now.
“If there’s to be grounds for impeachment of President Trump – and I’m not seeking those grounds – that would have to be so clearly bipartisan in terms of acceptance of it before I think we should go down any impeachment path,” Pelosi told USA Today shortly before becoming Speaker.
When special counsel Mueller’s office issued a statement yesterday questioning some details of the BuzzFeed report, it appeared to many as if they were saying to Democrats to “hold on” and wait a while before beginning impeachment proceedings. With these latest disclosures, however, the patience of Democrats — and millions of Americans — is wearing thin.
If Robert Mueller has clear and convincing evidence that Donald Trump committed crimes, then he should disclose that information to Congress — and to the American people — immediately.