Congressional Democrats are signaling they’re ready to embark on the impeachment process with or without a report from special counsel Robert Mueller.
A number of Democratic lawmakers said impeachment would be warranted if they could corroborate a BuzzFeed News report claiming President Donald Trump directed his lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to congressional investigators, and they have indicated they might not wait for Mueller, reported The Atlantic.
“The conduct alleged by BuzzFeed is consistent with other, independent evidence of Donald Trump as candidate instructing others to lie and Donald Trump as President obstructing justice,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), who serves on both the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.
But the former prosecutor cautioned that reporting was not enough to impeach a president, despite what appeared to be significant evidence of wrongdoing.
“Evidence is not a conclusion, it must be tested,” Swalwell told The Atlantic.
“We should do all we can in Congress with the subpoena power and oversight responsibility to see if Trump acted this way. I don’t think anyone will be surprised if it’s confirmed.”
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee — where impeachment proceedings must begin — promised to “get to the bottom of” the claims made by BuzzFeed against the president, and Trump’s attorney general nominee has said those allegations would justify impeachment.
“If a president knowingly or destroys or alters evidence, suborns perjury, or induces a witness to change testimony, or commits any act deliberately impairing the integrity of availability of evidence, then he, like anyone else, commits the crime of obstruction,” Barr wrote in a 19-page memo given to the president’s attorneys and others. “Indeed, the acts of obstruction alleged against Presidents Nixon and Clinton in their respective impeachments were all such ‘bad acts’ involving the impairment of evidence.”
Democratic lawmakers have called on Mueller to release evidence to corroborate BuzzFeed’s reporting, if any exists.
“If Mueller does have multiple sources confirming Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, then we need to know this ASAP,” tweeted Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). “Mueller shouldn’t end his inquiry, but it’s about time for him to show Congress his cards before it’s too late for us to act.”
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley and senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway each refused to deny the BuzzFeed reporting, Ivanka Trump issued a carefully worded denial of some claims in the report, and the president had not directly commented on the allegations through Friday morning.