Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Friday called for the House of Representatives to start impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump in the wake of the public release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
“The Mueller report lays out facts showing that a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 election to help Donald Trump and Donald Trump welcomed that help,” Warren added on Twitter. “Once elected, Donald Trump obstructed the investigation into that attack.”
Warren spent all day Thursday traveling back east from a trip to Colorado and Utah, reading the 448-page report on her flight, according to an aide. She continued to read the report last night before reaching this conclusion.
Warren’s announcement is significant. She’s the first 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to call for impeachment, and the most high-profile Democrat to do so ― at a time when most leaders of her party are backing away from it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has consistently said she’s not in favor of moving forward on it.
And even after the Mueller report, Democratic leaders seemed unconvinced. Both House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) rejected trying to remove Trump on Thursday. Hoyer said it was “not worthwhile” and Nadler said it was “too early to talk about that.”
The fact that Warren was the first leading candidate to get out front on impeachment isn’t entirely surprising. She’s also been willing to go further than other candidates on issues like breaking up big tech companies, eliminating the filibuster and imposing a wealth tax, putting her 2020 rivals on the spot about their own positions.
Taking into account the Justice Department’s position that the president can’t face charges while in office, the Mueller report stops short of calling Trump a criminal. But despite Attorney General William Barr’s attempts to spin the public perception of the report in Trump’s favor, the Mueller investigation laid out an extensive pattern of plainly unethical and seemingly criminal behavior to obstruct an ongoing law enforcement investigation.
The only reason that Trump didn’t obstruct justice in most cases, the report suggests, was because his staffers refused to obey what they perceived as illegal orders. The report also states that, had Trump’s aides carried out his orders, they could have been charged with crimes.
“The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” the report states. “Consistent with that pattern, the evidence we obtained would not support potential obstruction charges against the President’s aides and associates beyond those already filed.”
Warren has not been an especially loud voice on potential Trump campaign coordination with Russia in the 2016 election, so the fact that she’s now backing impeachment is notable. Previously, she said she wanted to wait and see what was in the Mueller report before taking a position.
In one of her tweets Friday, she said she took seriously the report’s conclusion that the work is now in the hands of Congress to get to the bottom of the matter.
Polls conducted in March by Monmouth University and CNN/SSRS found support for Trump’s impeachment at 44% and 36% respectively ― several points below Trump’s overall disapproval numbers. In both surveys, two-thirds or more of Democrats said they wanted to see Trump impeached.
But the direction of the public’s shift differed: Monmouth’s poll, which was completed in early March, found that support for impeachment had risen slightly since November, due mainly to increased support from independents. CNN’s more recent survey, by contrast, found that Democrats’ appetite for impeachment had dipped since December, in the wake of Pelosi’s comments opposing the idea.
Ariel Edwards-Levy, Ryan Reilly and Kevin Robillard contributed reporting.