Warren urged House to rise ‘above politics’ and launch proceedings against Trump while Biden said president ‘should be tried’
Elizabeth Warren urged the House of Representatives to rise “above politics” and launch impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump after Robert Mueller testified that his report on Russian election interference did not exonerate the president.
The candidates, speaking on Wednesday at the annual convention of the NAACP, the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights organization, said Mueller’s testimony highlighted the urgency for bringing articles of impeachment against a president whose bigotry while in office has harmed communities of color.
“This is a moment in history and every single member of Congress should be called on to vote and to live with that vote for the rest of their lives,” said Warren, who was the first presidential candidate to push for impeachment – a point of distinction that she emphasized.
“I read the Mueller report the day it came out,” she told the NAACP delegates who unanimously voted on Tuesday to recommend the House launch impeachment proceedings against Trump. “When I got to the end, I did not stick my finger in the air and ask about the politics, I did not hesitate. This is a man who has broken the law and he should be impeached.”
Bernie Sanders said: “He is not exonerated. He called Trump a “racist” who is “trying to divide the American people up based on the color of their skin.”
Sanders, who has called on the House to begin an impeachment inquiry, said it is a matter of fact “that the president did everything that he could to obstruct the Mueller investigation”.
As the candidates spoke in Detroit, Mueller testified before to House panels on Capitol Hill about his 448-report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. In his testimony, Mueller dismissed Trump’s claims of total exoneration and stated explicitly that his conclusions did not clear the president of obstruction of justice.
The hours of televised testimony produced few revelations beyond what was included in Mueller’s report, which was delivered to the justice department in March. Muellerl’s investigation “did not establish” that Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 election but it declined to make a determination as to whether Trump obstructed justice.
Impeachment proceedings must begin in the House, where the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has resisted growing support for impeachment among her Democratic caucus, saying repeatedly that it would play into Trump’s hands politically before the 2020 election. Last week, the House stopped an effort to launch impeachment proceedings, but 95 Democrats voted in support of moving forward with the resolution.
Joe Biden said at a campaign stop in Dearborn, Michigan: “I think there are impeachable offenses and that the president should be tried for them. I think it’s something that the House has to come about in an orderly way so that the American people understand that this is not done for political reasons.”
Asked if a Biden administration would pursue charges against Trump after he leaves office, as candidates such as the California senator Kamala Harris have suggested, Biden said it was “premature.”
“I’m not one of these guys – you know, lock him up or send her home or that kind of stuff,” he said.
Harris, who supports impeachment, accused the attorney general, William Barr, of “misleading the American people” about Mueller’s findings and said Mueller’s public testimony would help set the record straight.
She said: “The American people are smart enough to know what is and what is not truth.”
New Jersey senator Cory Booker agreed that the House should begin impeachment proceedings, saying Mueller’s report described behavior of “deceit” and “instructing people to lie”.
Yet he urged Democrats to focus their energy on removing Trump from office “at the ballot box” as an inquiry would almost certainly result in an acquittal by the Republican-led Senate.
South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg said an impeachment inquiry would “bring more facts to light” but he too cautioned that the proceedings would probably stall in the Senate. He said: “I’m focusing on the best thing I can do about the Trump presidency, which is to defeat it in November of 2020.”
Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar said: “In America … the law is king. The king is not the law. It is time for Donald Trump to stop the racism [and]to leave the White House.”
The former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, who was not asked about impeachment at the conference, said in a statement that Mueller’s testimony adds “urgency” to calls for impeachment.
He said: “There must be consequences, accountability and justice. And the only way to ensure this is for Congress to begin impeachment proceedings.”
On Tuesday, the Michigan congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, one of the four freshman lawmakers of color Trump said should “go back to the countries they came from”, received a standing ovation as she took the stage to address the NAACP conference gathered in the city where she was born – and now represents in Congress.
She said: “Y’all, I’m not going nowhere. Not until I impeach this president.”