President Donald Trump hit back shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused him of obstruction, saying he won’t negotiate with Democrats on policy while their inquiries continue. (May 22)
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is frustrated with congressional probes, and Wednesday vowed to not work with Congress until they’re dropped.
House Democrats are also growing more incensed — with the president.
Trump, who will not be charged by the Justice Department after a nearly 2-year probe by special counsel Robert Mueller, has accused Congress of being out of line after House Democrats initiated new investigations into whether Trump obstructed justice. After the administration has refused to provide documents or make current or former officials available to testify, lawmakers say they fear the president is hiding something.
Now, beginning impeachment proceedings as a response to the administration’s refusal to cooperate with the congressional inquiries is gaining support with Democrats.
Here’s what you need to know about all the recent impeachment talk:
Pelosi holding off on proceedings
The House speaker has been wary of moving forward on impeachment and has so far held back Democrats from beginning proceedings.
But after the White House has resisted cooperating with ongoing investigations from key House committees, Democrats are increasingly pressuring Pelosi to take action.
In March, Pelosi said she opposes impeachment and believes it’s the “most divisive” path forward. Since then, she has also accused the president of seeking to goad lawmakers into impeaching him.
However, ahead of meeting with Trump on Wednesday, Pelosi accused the president of a “cover-up” — the harshest language the House speaker has used to date with regard to Trump’s actions. Trump denied any cover-up.
Trump to Democrats: No deals on infrastructure, drug prices until they drop investigations
Pelosi responds: Trump’s ‘cover-up’ could be ‘an impeachable offense’
Pelosi later on Wednesday noted that she believed cover-ups might be impeachable offenses during remarks at the Center for American Progress Ideas Conference.
“This is why I think the president was so steamed off this morning, because the fact is: in plain sight — in the public domain — this president is obstructing justice and he is engaged in a cover-up and that could be an impeachable offense,” she said.
Pelosi, however, still cautioned that she is unsure whether Congress would obtain any more information than it’s gathered from its current investigations by opening an impeachment inquiry, saying it is a “judgment that we would have to make.”
Stunned by the extent of the White House’s blanket refusal to comply with oversight by Congress, House Democrats are wrangling over whether to move forward with official impeachment proceedings of Donald Trump. AP’s Lisa Mascaro explains. (May 14)
Key Democrats, reportedly behind closed doors and some publicly, have been calling for impeachment proceedings to begin.
Rep. David Cicilline, who is on the Democratic leadership team and on the House Judiciary Committee, tweeted that after former White House counsel Don McGahn ignored a subpoena to testify before Congress, proceedings should happen.
Many of the major 2020 presidential candidates have also come out in support of impeaching the president, even if doing so involves political risk for Democrats.
Republicans stand with Trump
Republicans are lining up behind Trump, denouncing talk of impeachment as well as the ongoing investigations by several committees in the Democratically-led House.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said “it’s time to move on” after Attorney General William Barr decided to not seek obstruction charges against the president, as explained in Barr’s 4-page summary of Mueller’s 448-page report.
McConnell has also told Democrats to “move on from partisan paralysis and breathless conspiracy theorizing.”
“With an exhaustive investigation complete, would the country finally unify to confront the real challenges before us,” McConnell said earlier this month on the Senate floor.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has also argued that there is “no basis” for Trump to be impeached.
“How can you impeach somebody over not having broken any rules for impeachment?” McCarthy said during an interview on CNBC in March. “I believe it’s wrong to do… they have no basis for impeachment but they want to do it for a political reason.”
However, there is one Republican who is now calling for the House to impeach Trump.
The pro-impeachment Republican
Rep. Justin Amash is the lone Republican calling Trump’s actions detailed in Mueller’s report “impeachable,” and Amash has doubled down on his stance — even after receiving backlash from GOP colleagues and a public roasting from the president.
After having read the entire redacted version of Mueller’s report, Amash in a series of tweets on Saturday accused Barr of distorting facts.
“President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct,” Amash tweeted.
On Monday, the five-term lawmaker did not back down, and instead, disputed several talking points that Republicans, including Trump, have suggested as reasons the president did not obstruct justice.
Trump on Sunday tweeted that he was “never a fan” of Amash, adding that he is “a total lightweight who opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy.”
“Justin is a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents hands!” the president wrote.
After his comments, the Michigan congressman will also face a primary challenger.
Michigan state representative Jim Lowe announced he is running to unseat Amash next year, accusing the Michigan Republican of being “out of touch” with “the truth” and “with people he represents.”
Since then a number of top Republicans have also come out against Amash, including McCarthy who claimed the congressman was looking for attention.
“It’s a question whether he’s even in our Republican conference as a whole,” McCarthy said during an interview on Fox News. “What he wants is attention in this process. He’s not a criminal attorney. He’s never met Mueller. He’s never met Barr. Now he’s coming forward with this because this is what he wants.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Donald Trump “took a pass” on working together with Democrats to address the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. (May 22)
Why talk of impeachment has increased
The White House and Democrats in Congress are at a stalemate.
At every turn, the Trump administration has refused to comply with requests from House Democrats, who are conducting investigations into possible obstruction of justice by the president, Trump’s taxes and other issues.
The House Judiciary Committee has requested documents from more than 80 entities associated with the president in an investigation separate from Mueller’s probe. The House Ways and Means Committee has also issued subpoenas to the Treasury Department for six years of Trump’s tax returns.
Most recently, former White House counsel Don McGahn ignored a subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. The White House, a day before McGahn’s testimony, presented a legal opinion from the Justice Department stating that McGahn can’t be required to testify.
Barr has also refused to testify before that committee. In addition, the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold the attorney general in contempt after he refused to hand over the full unredacted version of Mueller’s report and its underlying evidence. Trump has asserted executive privilege over Mueller’s unredacted report which could lead to a battle in the courts.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has refused to hand over the president’s 2013-2018 tax returns, citing guidance from the Justice Department. A fight for the president’s returns will possibly play out in court as well.
But House Democrats are still calling on former White House officials to testify.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, subpoenaed former White House communications director Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson, former White House deputy counsel.
Hicks, who was one of Trump’s most trusted advisers, left the White House early last year. Donaldson, who was a top aide to McGahn, during her stint in the White House frequently documented daily conversations and meetings, including the president’s actions to try to get Mueller removed as special counsel and his outrage after former FBI Director James Comey publicly revealed the existence of the Russia investigation, according to the Washington Post.
So what if lawmakers decide to impeach Trump?
With tensions between Capitol Hill and the Trump administration continuing to rise, impeachment may become a reality.
The process would start in the House of Representatives. The House is the chamber that brings forth articles of impeachment, while the Senate tries the president on those articles. Any House lawmaker can bring forth allegations of “high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” as provided in the Constitution. The House Judiciary Committee would then investigate whether there is sufficient grounds to impeach and approve articles of impeachment, which are then put to a vote by the full House. A simple majority — or 218 of the 435 representatives in office — must vote in favor for the president to be impeached.
If Trump is impeached in the House, then the Senate will hold a trial on the articles of impeachment. Conviction by the Senate requires support of two-thirds of senators. Chief Justice John Roberts would preside over the Senate trial.
There have only been two presidents to be impeached: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. However, neither was convicted by the Senate. As a result, Republicans faced political retribution after Clinton was impeached but survived his trial in the Senate and remained in office — a fear Pelosi now has if house Democrats move forward knowing a trial would be held in a GOP-controlled Senate unlikely to convict Trump and remove him.
Impeachable offenses include “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” under the Constitution. Former President Richard Nixon, who was never impeached and resigned before the full House could hold an impeachment vote, faced a charge of obstructing congressional inquiries into his conduct.
Like what you’re reading?: Download the USA TODAY app for more
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/05/22/5-things-you-need-know-trump-impeachment-talk/3770701002/