From left: Scanlon, Cicilline, Jayapal, and Escobar
The U.S. House of Representatives is moving forward with an investigation that could result in the impeachment of Donald Trump.
Mary Gay Scanlon, vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and three other Democratic members of the committee — David Cicilline (an out gay man), Pramila Jayapal, and Veronica Escobar — posted an article on The Atlantic’s website this afternoon saying they “will move forward with the impeachment process,” although that may not actually end in an impeachment trial.
“Our investigation will seriously examine all the evidence as we consider whether to bring articles of impeachment or other remedies under our Article I powers,” they wrote. They noted, “While many people believe that beginning an impeachment investigation can begin only with a vote of the full House of Representatives, this is not true. Article I [of the U.S. Constitution] authorizes the House Judiciary Committee to begin this process.”
As part of the investigation, the Judiciary Committee today filed a petition in federal court seeking to obtain grand jury documents related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and attempts by the Trump administration to obstruct the investigation. The grand jury information has been kept under seal.
“Because Department of Justice policies will not allow prosecution of a sitting president, the United States House of Representatives is the only institution of the federal government that can now hold President Trump accountable for these actions,” the filing states. It is directed to U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell, who supervised the grand jury involved in Mueller’s investigation, The New York Times reports.
The committee is “using the court filing to declare that lawmakers have already in effect launched an impeachment investigation of President Trump,” the Times notes.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has resisted impeaching Trump. The House brings articles of impeachment, but the Senate holds the trial, and the Senate now has a Republican majority and is unlikely to convict Trump. Some Democrats fear a failed impeachment trial could spur backlash that would help Trump win reelection in 2020 and hurt Democrats in moderate districts.
Sources told the Times Pelosi had approved the language in the court filing, which “would appear to provide a middle course for Democrats, allowing them to continue to build a case without forcing members from moderate districts to vote on whether to formally declare impeachment proceedings to be underway,” the paper notes.
“We will proceed when we have what we need to proceed,” Pelosi told reporters today, according to the Times. “Not one day sooner.”
At a press conference on the filing, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said, “Too much has been made of the phrase ‘an impeachment inquiry.’ We are doing what our court filing says we are doing, what I said we are doing, and that is we are using our full Article I powers to investigate the conduct of the president and to consider what remedies there are. Among other things we will consider, obviously, is whether to recommend articles of impeachment.”
Escobar was less cautious, saying at the press conference, “We’re now crossing a threshold with this filing, and we are now officially entering into an examination of whether or not to recommend articles of impeachment.”