Urging the impeachment of President Trump, restive Democrats are amplifying their case Wednesday following new reports suggesting Trump pressed the FBI to drop a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) spoke out at a closed-door Democratic Caucus meeting Wednesday morning, underscoring the urgency of removing Trump, whom the Democrats increasingly see as a national security liability.
Also Wednesday morning, Rep. Al Green (D-Texas), who joined the impeachment push earlier in the week, took to the House floor to trumpet that call, characterizing his decision as a ”position of conscience.”
“This is where I stand; I will not be moved,” said Green. “The president must be impeached.”
Watch VIDEO: http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/333872-restive-dems-amplify-calls-for-impeachment
It’s unclear how many Democrats agree with Waters and Green — one Democrat put the number at around 10. But Tuesday’s New York Times story revealing that Trump had urged James Comey, his recently fired FBI chief, to abandon the Flynn investigation is moving a number of Democrats swiftly in that direction.
“We are rapidly approaching an impeachment process,” Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) said Wednesday.
The issue is forcing Democratic leaders to walk a tightrope in their approach to the ongoing Russia-Trump saga. While they want to keep the pressure on the White House to cooperate in several ongoing investigations, they’re also urging the launch of an outside investigation, which would require the support of Republicans to get off the ground.
By shouting for impeachment, many Democrats fear they might politicize the investigation in such a way that the Republicans refuse to cooperate.
With that in mind, Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, stood up at Wednesday’s meeting and attempted to discourage the impeachment push.
“We ought to keep our focus on finding out the facts in the first instance. And no one ought to, in my view, rush to embrace the most extraordinary remedy that involves the removal of the president from office,” Schiff told reporters afterwards.
“It cannot be perceived as an effort to nullify the election by other means.”
Toward that end, House Democrats on Wednesday unveiled a discharge petition on legislation creating an independent, outside panel, similar to the 9/11 Commission, to take the lead in the investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election, including whether any members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), a lead sponsor of the bill, said such a panel might dig up information that eventually leads to impeachment proceedings, but Democrats need to be patient and take the process one step at a time.
“I just want to get the information,” he said. “Will it lead to impeachment? I don’t know.”
Green said Wednesday that he hasn’t introduced the articles of impeachment that would jumpstart the process. But he’ll do so, he said, if no one else does.
“I have not done that, but I will do that if it is not done by others,” Green told The Hill.
Democratic leaders, meanwhile, insist they’re not putting any pressure on their troops to shy away from impeachment calls. But they’re also making clear they don’t support that approach, either.
“I’m not afraid of the ‘I’ word: It’s ‘independent’ — independent commission, independent investigator. That’s what I support, and that’s also the general consensus of our Democratic leadership,” Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said Wednesday.
“Members can come to their own conclusions, and we don’t pretend to stand here and speak on behalf of every single individual member of our caucus,” he added. “But what I would suggest is there needs to be a full investigation first. We need to get to the facts, and let the facts lead where they may.”