As House Democrats move forward with drafting articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, some of their counterparts in the Senate think those should include portions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) alluded to the Russia investigation when she called on House Democratic leaders to draft articles of impeachment, a process that is scheduled to begin next week.
“The president leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit,” Pelosi said at a Thursday press conference.
In his report, Mueller laid out several possible examples of Trump obstructing justice in the Russia investigation. The special counsel declined to say, however, whether Trump had illegally obstructed justice, citing the Justice Department’s position that sitting presidents cannot be indicted.
House Democrats this week are privately debating whether they should broaden the scope of the articles to include the examples of obstruction of justice documented by Mueller in his report. Doing so, however, could alienate some moderate House Democrats who view the Ukraine issue as a clearer example of Trump’s abuse of power, CNN reported.
Earlier this week, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) argued that Trump’s latest actions in the Ukraine matter showed a “pattern of conduct” seen since his first year in office. That argument was echoed by some Senate Democrats on Thursday.
“Past conduct is always relevant if the defendant denies the intent. It’s relevant to refute a denial,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who once served as a prosecutor. “How can he be innocent now, if there’s all this evidence of how he’s acted to obstruct justice then?”
Blumenthal suggested incorporating portions of Mueller’s report into an article of impeachment narrowly focused on the subject of obstruction.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) agreed.
“I was struck that the Mueller report lays out [several] cases of obstruction. I think that’s a hard thing for the House not to pay attention to,” Merkley said.
Still, other Senate Democrats said the decision on whether to include the Russia investigation in articles of impeachment ought to be left to the House.
The Senate is expected to take up articles of impeachment against Trump sometime next month. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has vowed to give the House case against Trump a trial, even though he does not believe there are enough votes in the upper chamber to remove the president.