J.W. Verret, a George Mason University law professor who served on President Donald Trump’s transition team, is calling on Congress to initiate impeachment proceedings in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
“This is serious stuff,” Verret told CNN’s Don Lemon in an interview Tuesday. “The Mueller report I think is something you can’t look away from. I mean you have to admit it: The emperor has no clothes.”
Verret, a lifelong Republican, was deputy director of economic policy on Trump’s presidential transition team beginning in August 2016. He quit after just two months, he wrote in an op-ed published Tuesday in The Atlantic, citing concerns over Trump’s views on immigration, financial regulation and Russia.
Over time, his view of Trump evolved from distasteful to disastrous.
“The Mueller report was that tipping point for me,” Verret wrote, “and it should be for Republican and independent voters, and for Republicans in Congress.”
Like Hillary Clinton and several other high-profile Democrats, Verret said he believes Mueller stopped short of charging Trump with a crime solely because of a Justice Department policy that prohibits indicting a sitting president.
“Depending on how you count, roughly a dozen separate instances of obstruction of justice are contained in the Mueller report,” Verret wrote. “The president dangled pardons in front of witnesses to encourage them to lie to the special counsel, and directly ordered people to lie to throw the special counsel off the scent.”
He continued: “This elaborate pattern of obstruction may have successfully impeded the Mueller investigation from uncovering a conspiracy to commit more serious crimes. At a minimum, there’s enough here to get the impeachment process started.”
Verret first called for Trump’s impeachment in a series of tweets on Saturday. He continued to argue the severity of Trump’s apparent misconduct in a statement issued Tuesday by Checks & Balances, a group of conservative and libertarian attorneys that also includes George Conway, husband of senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway.
“We believe the framers of the Constitution would have viewed the totality of this conduct as evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors,” the group said in the statement. “Accordingly, Congress, which carries its own constitutional oversight responsibilities, should conduct further investigation.”
In his interview with CNN on Tuesday, Verret implored his fellow Republicans to take a stand and start asking “serious questions.”
“The first brave thing Republicans in Congress should do, and I admire a lot of them up there, is just start to ask serious questions at the hearings,” Verret said. “It doesn’t mean you have to admit guilt. But the pure sort of block and tackle for the president just to show loyalty on TV when he watches it later ― that’s got to stop.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), drawing outrage from some members of her party, has resisted calls to initiate impeachment proceedings, warning those efforts could further divide the country without first investigating further.
“As you know, last Thursday’s release of the redacted Mueller Report has caused a public outcry for truth and accountability,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to her colleagues Monday. “While our views range from proceeding to investigate the finding of the Mueller report or proceeding directly to impeachment, we all firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth.”