Thursday 17 October 2019

Trump not in clear: Democrats

Leaders of opposition leave door open to pursue impeachment

Greeting: Donald Trump waves as he arrives with Melania Trump and Tiffany Trump (left) for a service in Palm Beach, Florida. ]Photo: Reuters/Al Drago
Greeting: Donald Trump waves as he arrives with Melania Trump and Tiffany Trump (left) for a service in Palm Beach, Florida. ]Photo: Reuters/Al Drago

Sarah N Lynch and Yasmeen Abutaleb

TOP congressional Democrats left the door open yesterday to pursue the impeachment of US President Donald Trump, but said they would first need to complete their own investigations into whether he obstructed justice in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

Democratic Party leaders have cautioned against impeachment just 18 months before the 2020 presidential election, although prominent liberals have called for the start of proceedings to remove Mr Trump from office since the release on Thursday of Mr Mueller's report.

US House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, whose panel would spearhead any impeachment proceedings, said Democrats would press ahead with investigations of Mr Trump in Congress and "see where the facts lead us".

"Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable," Mr Nadler said on NBC's 'Meet the Press'.

A redacted version of Mr Mueller's long-awaited report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, the product of a 22-month investigation, built a broad case that Mr Trump had committed obstruction of justice. While it stopped short of concluding Mr Trump had committed a crime, it did not exonerate him.

Mr Mueller noted that Congress has the power to address whether Mr Trump violated the law, and Democrats said it would be a matter of discussion in the coming weeks.

"That's going to be a very consequential decision and one I'm going to reserve judgment on until we have a chance to fully deliberate on it," House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said on 'Fox News Sunday'.

Mr Nadler has issued a subpoena to the Justice Department to hand over the full Mueller report and other relevant evidence by May 1, although the Justice Department called the request "premature and unnecessary".

With Republicans standing by Mr Trump, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has cautioned against an impeachment effort that would have no chance of success in the Republican-led Senate.

US Senator Elizabeth Warren became the first major contender for the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination to call for the start of impeachment proceedings, saying on Twitter on Friday that "the severity of this misconduct" demanded it.

Democratic House Oversight Committee chairman Elijah Cummings said on CBS's 'Face the Nation' that Congress needed to look at Mr Trump's finances and gauge Mr Mueller's intentions with his report.

He said even if Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic impeachment effort, "I think history would smile upon us for standing up for the constitution."

Democratic presidential contender Tim Ryan, a member of the House, said the party should wait until the multiple ongoing investigations of Mr Trump in Congress have had a chance to uncover more evidence.

"Let the process play itself out," he said on CNN's 'State of the Union' show yesterday.

"I would just rather us take this next step: educate the American people, really get these details out, let the Judiciary Committee do its work."

Mr Trump, who has repeatedly called the investigation a "witch hunt", has claimed vindication from Mr Mueller's report. Rudy Giuliani, one of Mr Trump's lawyers, tried to undermine the credibility of Mr Mueller's investigators on NBC's 'Meet the Press'.

"I don't think his people are fair," Mr Giuliani said of Mr Mueller's team. "I don't think that report is fair."

Irish Independent

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