Long before a redacted version of the Mueller report was released this week, the winds of impeachment were swirling around Donald Trump’s presidency.
Nonetheless, the findings in the 448-page report, which include 11 instances in which Trump or his campaign engaged in potential obstruction of justice, have increased pressure on prominent Democrats to take a stand on the issue.
Articles of impeachment would have to pass the Democratic-controlled House. But to remove the president from office, two-thirds of the Republican-controlled Senate would need to vote in favor.
The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has repeatedly resisted calls for impeachment. She and other Democrats fear the process, which would be overwhelmingly likely to fail in the Senate, would become a political distraction and that the party should instead bet on the ballot box in 2020 as the way to get Trump out of the White House.
Nonetheless, in the wake of the Mueller report, prominent Democrats including presidential contenders, committee chairs and rank-and-file lawmakers found themselves having to position themselves as for impeachment, against it … or somewhere in between.
Elizabeth Warren: The Massachusetts senator was the first 2020 presidential candidate to call for impeachment, writing that not holding such proceedings “would suggest that both the current and future presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways”.
“The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty,” she tweeted. “That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the president of the United States.”
Julián Castro: The former housing secretary and hopeful for the Democratic nomination said he would support Congress opening impeachment proceedings, telling CNN “it would be perfectly reasonable for Congress” to do so.
Tom Steyer:The billionaire explored running for president until January, with impeachment as a key part of his platform. Despite deciding not to run, he has continued to pursue impeachment. In response to Warren’s support, he said she was “one of the people in Washington who has the moral courage to do what’s right”.
Rashida Tlaib: A month before the redacted Mueller report was released, the Michigan representative introduced an impeachment resolution. “We all swore to protect our nation, and that begins with making sure that no one, including the president of the United States, is acting above the law,” Tlaib wrote in a letter to colleagues. She also called for Trump’s impeachment on her first day in office in January, in a Detroit Free Press opinion piece and at a swearing-in event, where she commented: “We’re going to impeach the motherfucker.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: On Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez said she would sign-on to Tlaib’s resolution, in the wake of the Mueller report. “Many know I take no pleasure in discussions of impeachment. I didn’t campaign on it, and rarely discuss it unprompted,” the New York representative and progressive star tweeted. “We all prefer working on our priorities: pushing Medicare for All, tackling student loans, and a Green New Deal. But the report squarely puts this on our doorstep.”
Maxine Waters: The Californian who chairs the House finance committee – and who has been attacked by Trump – backed impeachment on Thursday. “Congress’s failure to impeach is complacency in the face of the erosion of our democracy and constitutional norms,” she said. “Congress’s failure to impeach would set a dangerous precedent and imperil the nation as it would vest too much power in the executive branch and embolden future officeholders to further debase the US presidency, if that’s even possible.”
Al Green: The Texas representative has pushed for impeachment since Trump fired the FBI director James Comey in May 2017, forcing two unsuccessful votes on the articles of impeachment. He continues to push on. “I call for the impeachment of the president of the United States of America,” Green said in a press conference streamed on Facebook. “This…