House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler is not yet calling for beginning an impeachment inquiry, but he says all options are still on the table and his committee is “following through” on its investigation before he decides how to proceed.
“At this point all options are on the table, and nothing should be ruled out,” the New York Democrat said Wednesday following special counsel Robert Mueller’s announcement that he would not provide information beyond his already public report in any appearance before Congress.
Asked whether he would subpoena Mueller to testify, Nadler would not say.
“Mr. Mueller told us a lot of what we need to hear today,” Nadler said.
Earlier Wednesday Nadler had issued a strong statement saying, “Given that special counsel Mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the President, it falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump — and we will do so.”
“No one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law,” he added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has so far resisted the pressure from the left to open an impeachment inquiry in Nadler’s committee. After Mueller’s announcement, Nadler and Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the panel, each said the special counsel confirmed their contradictory views of the report’s conclusions.
Mueller said in a rare and remarkable public statement Wednesday his investigation could not clear Trump and that charging the President was not an option his office could consider.
In Mueller’s first public comments on the investigation since he was appointed special counsel two years ago, he emphasized that Justice Department guidelines did not allow him to charge a sitting President, and as a result his office did not determine whether the President had committed obstruction of justice.
“If we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said. “We did not however make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime.”
As he announced he was closing the special counsel’s office and resigning from the Justice Department, Mueller delivered a road map of how the investigation played out and the possible role that Congress could play in holding Trump accountable.
“In his statement this morning, special counsel Mueller reaffirmed his report, which found substantial evidence that Russia attacked our political system and that the President sought to obstruct Mueller’s investigation over and over again,” said Nadler. “He also confirmed three central points: he did not exonerate the President of the United States of obstruction of justice, obstruction of justice is a serious crime that strikes at the core of our justice system, and the Constitution points to Congress to take action to hold the President accountable.”
But Collins said Mueller found “there was no collusion and no obstruction” and urged the country to “move on” from the investigation to other issues.
“Relitigating the 2016 election and reinvestigating the special counsel’s findings will only further divide our country,” said Collins. “I appreciate special counsel Mueller highlighting the grave threat Russian interference in our elections poses to our democracy.”
Pelosi has said that impeachment would be divisive for the country. She’s said that Trump is “taunting” Democrats to impeach him in stonewalling their various investigations to rally his political base ahead of the 2020 elections. And she again urged her members on Wednesday to stick to the party line of advocating for investigations rather an impeachment.
“The Congress will continue to investigate and legislate to protect our elections and secure our democracy,” said Pelosi.
But some Democrats who have broken away in the past few weeks, as Attorney General Bill Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn have defied subpoena requests to testify before the House Judiciary committee. Mueller’s public remarks compelled Sen. Cory Booker, a presidential candidate, to announce his support for impeachment proceedings to begin in the House.
“We have one remaining path to ensure justice is served,” said Booker. “It is our legal and moral obligation to hold those who have committed crimes accountable.”
Even if the House voted to impeach Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to convict him on any charge such as obstruction of justice.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that the special counsel team turned over its report to Barr, who found Trump didn’t obstruct justice even though Mueller detailed multiple potential instances of it. One of the key episodes the special counsel cited in the investigation, for example, was in 2017 when the President told McGahn to fire Mueller and McGahn would not do so.
“Without an underlying offense or collusion, and the overwhelming cooperation by the Trump White House with the Mueller investigation, the attorney general’s decision on obstruction is sound,” said Graham. “It will be the final word in my view.”
“As for me, the case is over,” said Graham.