Mentions of the “I-word” picked up in the halls of Congress on Wednesday as Democrats’ reactions to President Donald Trump’s reported interference in the FBI’s Russia investigation ranged from impeach now to wait until more facts come out.
Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, continued to be the most vocal advocate for Trump’s impeachment, taking to the House floor to make his case.
“This is about what I believe. And this is where I stand. I will not be moved. The president must be impeached,” Green said.
A number of Democratic lawmakers made less direct threats, saying if what has been reported is true it is obstruction of justice. And that, they said, could lead down a road that ends with the president’s ouster — but that the facts aren’t in yet.
“I sit on a House Judiciary Committee, where is where any impeachment proceeding would start, And I have to say if the president engaged in obstruction of justice, that is a high crime. That in fact was the first Article of Impeachment under President Nixon,” Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Cali., said on MSNBC.
Those discussions were had before the Justice Department announced the appointment of a special counsel to head the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign,
Throughout the day, many Democrats urged caution before calling for Trump’s potential ouster, instead saying the focus should remain on getting all the information for now.
“I don’t think impeachment is the move right now. I just want to know the facts,” Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., told NBC News’ Hallie Jackson.
“I am not there, I just want to get the information,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., told reporters when asked about the prospects of impeachment. “Will it lead to impeachment? I don’t know.”
“I think that impeachment is an obvious possibility, but we’re not nearly there yet,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said on MSNBC. “We have to find out what really went on. We have to find out the truth of all of these different allegations.”
Talk of impeachment intensified after Tuesday’s bombshell New York Times report that former FBI Director James Comey detailed in a memo how Trump asked him to end his investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The report, confirmed by NBC News, came on the heels of new concerns the president revealed classified information to Russian officials and his surprise ouster of Comey last week.
At least two Republicans — Reps. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, who is in a swing district, and Justin Amash of Michigan — talked openly about the possibility of bringing charges against Trump.
“Obstruction of justice is an impeachable offense,” Curbelo told a CBS affiliate in Miami. He said in a later interview that any talk of impeachment would be premature.
Amash replied “yes” when asked if the allegations against Trump would warrant impeachment. But he added that “everybody gets a fair trial in this country.” The frequent Trump critic simply told NBC News he had nothing more to add when asked to clarify the comments.
But House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters he continues to have full confidence in the president, and continued to dismiss the need for a special prosecutor just hours before the Department of Justice announced former FBI Director Robert Mueller would serve in the role.