“For those of us who have been following the investigation and have seen any part of that report, it is very clear that there is a lot of good evidence pointing to obstruction of justice,” she said.
“I believe Congress should take the steps towards impeachment,” Harris added.
A redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was released to the public on April 18, examining whether there were links between Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and Trump’s campaign. (Mueller declined to make a definitive conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice during the investigation).
Impeachment proceedings are “very likely” to begin in the House, Harris said. But she voiced concern about how a trial on articles of impeachment would play out in the Senate, where Republicans hold the majority.
“I’ve not seen any evidence to suggest that they will weigh on the facts instead of on partisan adherence to being protective of this president,” she said of Senate Republicans. “And that’s what concerns me and what will be the eventual outcome. So we have to be realistic about what might be the end result, but that does not mean the process should not take hold.”
Harris’ comments during the town hall are a significant shift from what she has said in the past. Shortly after she announced her presidential bid in January, the senator declined to call for impeachment, pending the outcome of Mueller’s then-ongoing investigation. Then, last week, she told MSNBC that she wanted to hear from Mueller before coming to any conclusions.
“There is definitely a conversation to be had on that subject, but first I want to hear from Bob Mueller and really understand what exactly is the evidence that supports the summary that we have been given today,” she said.
Democratic 2020 candidates, and the Democratic Party as a whole, has been somewhat divided on the issue of impeachment. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro have explicitly called for Trump’s impeachment, while South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), as well as former Rep. Beto O’Rouke (D-Texas), have skated around giving a specific answer on the subject.
In a letter to Democrats on Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) acknowledged her party’s divide on impeachment. “While our views range from proceeding to investigate the findings of the Mueller report or proceeding directly to impeachment, we all firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth,” she wrote. “It is also important to know that the facts regarding holding the President accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings.”
But the one person who doesn’t appear to be worried about impeachment proceedings is Trump himself.
“Only high crimes and misdemeanors can lead to impeachment. There were no crimes by me (No Collusion, No Obstruction), so you can’t impeach,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “It was the Democrats that committed the crimes, not your Republican President! Tables are finally turning on the Witch Hunt!”
The Mueller report specifically stated that the investigation did not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice. The redacted version of the report details 10 instances in which Trump may have used his authority to hinder the investigation.