Special counsel Robert Mueller’s first public statement on the Russia investigation is fueling fresh calls on Capitol Hill to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, a step that Democratic leaders have so far resisted.
Surprising Washington with brief remarks Wednesday, Mueller indicated it’s up to Congress to decide what to do with his findings. The special counsel reiterated that bound by Justice Department policy, charging a sitting president with a crime was “not an option.” But he also stressed he could not exonerate Trump. Instead, he cited that same policy to say, “The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system.”
With Mueller closing his office and not expected to comment further, it all amounted, for some, to an open invitation for Congress to launch impeachment proceedings.
“He’s asking us to do what he wasn’t allowed to - hold the president accountable,” said Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a member of the House Judiciary Committee, the panel with impeachment power.
“We have one remaining path to ensure justice is served,” said Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, a Democratic presidential candidate. “It’s clear that the House must begin impeachment proceedings. No one is above the law.”
But top Democrats, with almost no support from Republicans, are hesitant to go it alone on an impeachment inquiry that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has warned would be divisive for the nation. They prefer to continue the work of investigating the president and building, as Pelosi said Wednesday, a case that’s “very compelling to the American people.”
“We are legislating, we’re investigating and we are litigating,” Pelosi said at an event in San Francisco.
“Nothing is off the table,” she said. “We want to do what is right and what gets results.”