Several candidates seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination seized upon remarks on Wednesday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to call for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
“What Robert Mueller basically did was return an impeachment referral,” California Senator Kamala Harris said in a tweet. “Now it is up to Congress to hold this president accountable.
“We need to start impeachment proceedings,” Harris said. “It’s our constitutional obligation.”
Mueller, in his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, outlined at least 10 possible acts of obstruction of justice by Trump.
But Mueller, in his first public remarks on Wednesday since issuing the report, said longstanding Justice Department policy prohibited him from charging a sitting president with a crime.
Under the Constitution, any further action was up to Congress, the former FBI director said.
“Mueller’s statement makes clear what those who have read his report know: It is an impeachment referral, and it’s up to Congress to act,” said Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. “They should.”
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, another 2020 Democratic hopeful, said “Mueller’s statement makes it clear: Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately.”
Former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro, another Democrat seeking the 2020 nomination, said Mueller “made clear this morning that his investigation now lays at the feet of Congress.
“No one is above the law — Congress should begin an impeachment inquiry,” Castro said.
“There must be consequences, accountability, and justice,” said former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke. “The only way to ensure that is to begin impeachment proceedings.”
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, where impeachment would take place, appeared to be in no hurry to launch such proceedings against the Republican president.
“I thank Special Counsel Mueller for the work he and his team did to provide a record for future action both in the Congress and in the courts regarding the Trump Administration involvement in Russian interference and obstruction of the investigation,” Pelosi said in a statement.
“The Congress holds sacred its constitutional responsibility to investigate and hold the President accountable for his abuse of power,” she said.
“The Congress will continue to investigate and legislate to protect our elections and secure our democracy,” Pelosi said. “The American people must have the truth.”
Asked about impeachment, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Jerry Nadler of New York, said “all options are on the table and nothing should be ruled out.”