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- More and more Democrats are ramping up calls for impeachment and harsher punishments for top Trump officials.
- At the same time, Democratic leaders are trying to tamp down on calls for Trump’s impeachment and advocate a “go-slow” strategy.
- Republicans are saying the Mueller investigation’s conclusion that Trump campaign officials did not engage in a conspiracy with the Russians means the issue is “case closed.”
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WASHINGTON – Congress is reaching a boiling point just several weeks after a redacted version of the report from the special counsel investigation headed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller was released to the public.
A slew of Democratic lawmakers running for president and other more liberal Democratic members are demanding the House begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, members of the Democratic leadership are desperately trying to argue for a more methodical approach, and Senate Republicans are trying to quash attempts to do anything except move on from the two-year Russia probe.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to demand his colleagues move on from Mueller’s investigation, declaring the probe into the president as “case closed.”
“Our responsibility to strengthen America is serious. And it requires serious work,” McConnell said. “But seriousness is not what we’ve seen from the Democratic Party in recent days. What we’ve seen is a meltdown.”
“An inability to accept the bottom-line conclusion on Russian interference from the special counsel’s report: ‘the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,'” he added. “That’s the conclusion.”
McConnell’s argument boiled down to a simple fact: the special counsel determined there was not enough evidence to charge Trump or anyone associated with his campaign with conspiracy.
“They told everyone there’d been a conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign,” he said. “Yet on this central question, the special counsel’s finding is clear: case closed. Case closed.”
McConnell’s speech greatly angered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who issued a joint statement of condemnation and said the speech oversimplified the situation.
“Senator McConnell’s declaration of ‘case closed’ is a stunning act of political cynicism and a brazen violation of the oath we all take,” the two Democratic leaders said. “When a President is allowed to violate the law with impunity, and when a foreign power is allowed to interfere in our elections, it gnaws at the roots of the great oak that is our democracy, and could very well topple it.”
“There is a dark connection in Washington between Senator McConnell, Attorney General Barr and President Trump: each preventing progress for the people, acting as handmaidens to a special interest agenda that is anti-government, anti-science and against meeting the needs of hard-working families,” they added.
Democrats are still calling for impeachment
McConnell’s floor speech also ruffled some feathers elsewhere on Capitol Hill.
Immediately after the GOP leader concluded, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren – who has already called for impeachment proceedings during campaign events for her 2020 presidential campaign – called for impeachment on the Senate floor.
“The information that has been given to us in the Mueller report clearly constitutes adequate information to begin impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives,” she said. “No matter how many times Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republicans want to wish that away, it’s there in black and white in the report.”
Warren specifically cited the evidence in the Mueller report related to potential obstruction of justice, which McConnell did not refer to in his speech, as evidence that impeachment was warranted.
“Robert Mueller makes clear that the president of the United States worked actively to obstruct justice. There is enough here to bring impeachment proceedings,” Warren added.
Warren’s comments conflicted with Democratic leaders’ narrative that impeachment is not a realistic or wise path for Democrats to travel down.
During an event on Tuesday in New York, just hours before Warren’s floor speech, Pelosi tried to downplay impeachment efforts, suggesting it is something Trump wants to rally the Republican base.
“Trump is goading us to impeach him,” she said. “Every single day, he’s just like, taunting, taunting, taunting, because he knows that it would be very divisive in the country, but he doesn’t really care. [He] just wants to solidify his base.”
It’s not just the Muller report
And it is not just impeachment talk that has rattled Capitol Hill. There are countless other probes and investigations from House Democrats using their newfound power in the majority. Because of stonewalling on those efforts, various committees are weighing legal action against high-level Trump administration officials.
The House Judiciary Committee is gearing up to decide on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over an unredacted copy of the final Mueller report. In another fight with the White House, the House Judiciary Committee is demanding testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn, a central figure in the special counsel’s report.
Also on the Democrats’ docket is the fight to obtain Trump’s personal tax returns from the IRS. In his capacity as the chief tax collector, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has intervened and declined multiple requests from Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee.
Regarding the onslaught of subpoenas and potential lawsuits from various committees led by Democrats in the House, Pelosi deferred to the chairs of said committees.
“As you probably know, in the Articles of Impeachment for President Nixon, Article 3 was that he ignored the subpoenas of Congress, that he did not honor the subpoenas of Congress,” she said. “This is very, very serious. But my judgment will spring from the judgment of our committee chairs.”