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Democrats say Trump impeachment proceedings 'possibly coming' after Mueller report

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Image: Elijah Cummings
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Elijah Cummings, D-Md., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on April 2, 2019. -
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J. Scott Applewhite AP file
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Democrats "can foresee" the possibility of impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump following the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

Speaking on the Sunday political talk shows, the chairmen of three key House investigatory committees sounded open to the possibility of bringing impeachment proceedings against the president.

"I can foresee that possibly coming," House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, adding that he is "not there yet" on impeachment.

The report itself, Cummings said, provides Congress with an investigatory "roadmap," he said.

"I think [Mueller] basically said to us as a Congress, 'It's up to you to take this further with regard to obstruction and the other matters that might come up,'" Cummings said.

He cautioned that Democrats must "be very careful" regarding impeachment because many Americans don't see eye-to-eye on the issue. However, Cummings said "history would smile upon us for standing up for the Constitution" if the House voted for impeachment but the Senate shot it down.

In his 400-plus page report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials and whether the president sought to obstruct justice, Mueller was unable to establish a Trump-Russia conspiracy and said he could not come to a traditional prosecutorial decision regarding obstruction.

"In sum, the investigation established multiple links between Trump Campaign officials and individuals tied to the Russian government," he wrote of possible collusion. "Those links included Russian offers of assistance to the Campaign. In some instances, the Campaign was receptive to the offer, while in other instances the Campaign officials shied away. Ultimately, the investigation did not establish that the Campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-interference activities."

On obstruction, Mueller wrote that if his team "had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state."

"Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him," he wrote, later saying that Trump's "efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests."

Impeachment chatter has picked up since the report's release. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and a 2020 presidential contender, called for the House to begin impeachment proceedings as a result of the report.

"To ignore a President's repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country," Warren tweeted Friday. "The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States."

But Democrats are clearly divided on the issue. On Thursday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said impeachment wasn't worthwhile.

On NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said some of the accusations described in Mueller's report "would be impeachable."

"Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable," he said.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on ABC's "This Week" that Warren, in her call for impeachment proceedings, is right "that the level of evidence in the Muller report is serious and damning and in a normal circumstance would be, I think without question, within the realm of impeachable offenses."

"We are, unfortunately, in an environment today where the GOP leadership, people like Kevin McCarthy, are willing to carry the president's water not matter how corrupt or unethical or dishonest the president's conduct may be," he added. "And in those kind of circumstances, when Mitch McConnell will not stand up to the president either, it means that an impeachment is likely to be unsuccessful."

But Schiff said the House might "undertake an impeachment nonetheless."

Trump has blasted the report in the days since a redacted version was released by the Justice Department, saying on Twitter that the report "was written as nastily as possible" and a "total 'hit job.'"

"The president is not going to jail," White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Sunday on "This Week." "He's staying in the White House for five and a half more years."