Majority of House Democrats favor starting impeachment proceedings
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[August 03, 2019]
By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A majority of Democrats in the U.S. House of
Representatives now favor launching impeachment proceedings against
Republican President Donald Trump, after a California lawmaker on Friday
became the 118th Democrat to call for the process to begin.
"In the past few years, our nation has seen and heard things from this
president that have no place in our democracy," Representative Salud
Carbajal said in a statement that accused Trump of "criminal" behavior.
"I believe it is time to open an impeachment inquiry into President
Donald Trump," Carbajal said.
The Democrats have a majority of 235 members in the House of
Representatives. Support for an impeachment inquiry has jumped by more
than two dozen Democrats since former Special Counsel Robert Mueller
testified on July 24 about his probe of Trump and Russian interference
in the 2016 election.
But the total of 118 is still far short of the 218 House votes needed to
approve an impeachment resolution, and opinion polls continue to show
voters sharply divided over the issue. The House is currently on a
summer recess and will not return until Sept. 9.
Having a majority of her own caucus favor impeachment could put new
pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who opposes impeachment as a
politically risky move unless investigators find powerful evidence of
misconduct by Trump that can unify public opinion.
In a statement issued Friday, Pelosi gave no sign she was about to
change her cautious approach. Instead, she outlined in considerable
detail her strategy of Democrats continuing to investigate the
president, while also moving in court to get access to more evidence.
"Democrats in the Congress continue to legislate, investigate and
litigate," Pelosi declared. "The president will be held accountable."
Democrats opposing impeachment say the best way to remove Trump is by
defeating him in 2020, when he is up for re-election. Some Democrats
worry that too strong a focus on impeachment could eclipse other issues
like healthcare and threaten the re-election of Democrats who pried
seats away from Republicans last year in regions where many voters
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Trump has denied any wrongdoing and says he was vindicated by the
Mueller report, but the special counsel made clear in his testimony
to Congress that that was not the case.
In his report, Mueller described in detail the extensive contact
Trump's team had with Russia during the 2016 election campaign, and
how Trump tried to impede Mueller's investigation.
While he stopped short of concluding Trump had committed a crime or
that his aides had conspired with Moscow, Mueller did not clear him
and indicated it was up to Congress to decide the next steps.
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee effectively rebranded
their six-month-old oversight investigation of Trump as an
impeachment probe last week, when they asked a federal judge for
access to Mueller's grand jury evidence to determine whether to
recommend articles of impeachment against Trump.
Despite the mounting impeachment calls, there are no outward signs
of a revolt among Democratic lawmakers over Pelosi's attitude,
perhaps in part because she has said that lawmakers are free to
“espouse their own position, and to criticize me.”
Democrats appear generally happy with her performance as speaker,
especially her ability to stand up to Trump day after day.
Pelosi has rallied to the defense of lawmakers Trump has attacked in
recent weeks, and sometimes she has returned Trump's fire with fire.
Defending her native city of Baltimore against Trump's criticisms
that it was a "rodent-infested mess," Pelosi said Thursday that the
president's own son-in-law was a "slumlord" there.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; additional reporting by David Morgan;
editing by Jonathan Oatis and Susan Thomas)
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