At least 76 members of the House of Representatives have publicly called for the launch of an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, based on his refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas and his obstruction of justice.
The impeachment inquiry still faces resistance from the Democratic Party leaders who control the 435-member chamber. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is cautioning that opening the inquiry would prove “divisive,” and is something Trump desires as a potential political benefit to him.
But as the president’s intransigence toward Congress has intensified, support for an inquiry is growing. The number of lawmakers calling for an inquiry has more than doubled in the past week ― 56 of the 76 lawmakers calling for a start to the impeachment process have done so since May 18.
These lawmakers consist of 75 Democrats and one Republican. They include 14 Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee ― more than half of the party members on the panel.
Special counsel Robert Mueller said on May 29 that if his investigation into Trump found that the president did not commit the crime of obstruction of justice, the report would have said so. He also noted that Justice Department regulations precluded his office from indicting a sitting president, and implied that the only way to accuse a president of wrongdoing was through Congress’ impeachment authority.
“The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,” Mueller said.
Just two senators ― Democrats Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California ― publicly backed an impeachment inquiry before Mueller spoke about the findings of his report on May 29. Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) called for an inquiry after Mueller’s press conference. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed an impeachment inquiry on May 30. But no signs have surfaced that if articles of impeachment passed the House on the required majority vote, the effort would come anywhere close to the two-thirds Senate vote needed to remove Trump from office.
An impeachment inquiry would centralize Congress’ investigation into whether Trump committed impeachable offenses in the House Judiciary Committee. The committee would then subpoena documents and testimony and hold hearings on any potential line of inquiry that could relate to an impeachable offense.
The inquiry could dig into the 10 episodes of potential obstruction of justice outlined in Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump’s stonewalling of the congressional effort to dig deeper into Mueller’s probe, or other areas like payments made by foreign governments to the president’s business in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
Those calling for the inquiry argue that it will strengthen their hand in winning court fights with the White House if they formally declare that Congress is investigating the president in order to determine if he should be impeached. This, they believe, could help overcome the Trump administration’s refusals to abide by subpoenas and other requests for documents necessary to investigate his alleged abuses.
Pelosi on May 22 accused Trump of engaging in a cover-up, and at a news conference the following day, she said the president is “crying out” for Democrats to move to oust him. But she stressed at her news conference that the House’s Democratic caucus “is not on a path to impeachment ― and that’s where he wants us to be.”
She described the impeachment process as “a very divisive place to go in our country.” Ongoing congressional inquiries into various actions by Trump “may take us to a place that is unavoidable in terms of impeachment, but we’re not at that place,” she said.
Here are the House members who have publicly called for Congress to launch an impeachment inquiry:
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), House Judiciary Committee member
Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), House Judiciary Committee member, Democratic leadership team
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), House Judiciary Committee member, Democratic leadership team
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), House Judiciary Committee member, Democratic leadership team
Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), House Judiciary Committee member
Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), House Judiciary Committee member, Democratic leadership team
Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), House Judiciary Committee member
Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), House Judiciary Committee vice-chair
Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.), House Judiciary Committee member
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), House Judiciary Committee member
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), House Judiciary Committee member
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), House Judiciary Committee member
Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.), House Judiciary Committee member
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), House Financial Services Committee chair
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), House Budget Committee chair
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Democratic leadership team
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), House Homeland Security Committee chair
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), House Rules Committee chair
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), House Natural Resources Committee chair
Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), Democratic leadership team
Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), House Small Business Committee chair
Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), House Armed Services Committee chair
This story has been updated with the increased number of lawmakers backing an impeachment inquiry.
CORRECTION: This article originally listed Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.) as calling for an impeachment inquiry.