Top Democrat: Articles of Impeachment Against Trump Should Include Obstruction of Mueller Probe

December 4, 2019 Updated: December 4, 2019

The No. 3 Democrat in the House said that articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump should include obstruction of justice for trying to impede former special counsel Robert Mueller.

Mueller’s team spent years probing the Trump-Russia collusion theory but concluded neither Trump nor his campaign conspired or cooperated with Russian actors.

But House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said one of the articles of impeachment against Trump should include obstruction of justice.

“Obstruction of justice, I think, is too clear not to include,” he told The State.

On the other hand, an unnamed aide to a member on the House Judiciary Committee told the outlet that leaders in the House had decided against including obstruction.

“Leadership has been pretty clear that’s not going to happen,” the aide said. Clyburn said that he hadn’t spoken with his colleagues about a narrower set of impeachment articles.

Trump ahead of NATO meeting
President Donald Trump ahead of the NATO meeting in Watford, United Kingdom, on Dec. 3, 2019. (NATO handout via Getty Images)

Democrats have struggled to articulate what Trump did that would constitute impeaching him. They have alleged that he committed “quid pro quo” when he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “look into” several matters as the White House reviewed congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine, but both Ukrainian and American officials have stated that Zelensky didn’t know the aid was on hold until August, weeks after the phone call.

Democrats have also alleged that the president engaged in “bribery” in the same matter.

In a report unveiled on Dec. 3 by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), House Democrats stated, “Donald Trump is the first president in the history of the United States to seek to completely obstruct an impeachment inquiry undertaken by the House of Representatives.”

“President Trump’s ongoing effort to thwart Congress’s impeachment power risks doing grave harm to the institution of Congress,” the report added.

Still, most Democrats have resisted publicly committing to impeaching Trump. Even as he introduced the report, Schiff said he still had to “consult with my colleagues” before coming to a decision.

Even some lawmakers who have previously said that Trump should be impeached are now changing their position.

“I think that it’s important that we reserve judgment. The report has powerful overwhelming evidence and again this is one of the largest investigations ever in America that relied on the fewest amount of documents,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) told reporters on Dec. 3.

Swalwell, who briefly ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, said on June 13 after Trump said there was “nothing wrong with listening” to opposition research from foreign nationals that “Congress has no choice: we must begin an impeachment inquiry against @realDonaldTrump.”

Swalwell referenced his call for impeachment just last month, telling Twitter followers: “I called for impeachment the day @realDonaldTrump told @GStephanopoulos he would again take help from a foreign government to win an election. That was June.”

Other members have expressed skepticism about any articles of impeachment that don’t deal directly with Ukraine.

“My advice to the drafters would be: Keep it focused, keep it simple, stick to the fact pattern than we just laid out to the American people,” Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) told The Wall Street Journal.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), a Democrat representing a district Trump won in 2016, said, “think at this point, keep it focused on Ukraine.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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