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More Dems Seeking Trump Impeachment    05/22 06:26

   More Democrats are calling -- and more loudly -- for impeachment proceedings 
against President Donald Trump after his latest defiance of Congress by 
blocking his former White House lawyer from testifying.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- More Democrats are calling --- and more loudly --- for 
impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump after his latest 
defiance of Congress by blocking his former White House lawyer from testifying.

   A growing number of rank-and-file House Democrats, incensed by former 
counsel Don McGahn's empty chair in the Judiciary Committee hearing room on 
Tuesday, are confronting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and pushing her and other 
leaders to act. Their impatience is running up against the speaker's preference 
for a more methodical approach , including already unfolding court battles.

   Pelosi summoned some of them --- still a small fraction of the House 
Democratic caucus --- to a meeting of investigators on Wednesday to assess 
strategy.

   Trump on Wednesday repeated his mantra about Democrats contributing to a 
"Witch Hunt" against him.

   "The Democrats are getting ZERO work done in Congress," he tweeted.

   Some Democratic leaders, while backing Pelosi, signaled that a march to 
impeachment may become inevitable.

   "We are confronting what might be the largest, broadest cover-up in American 
history," Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters. If a House inquiry "leads 
to other avenues including impeachment," the Maryland Democrat said, "so be it."

   Reps. Joaquin Castro of Texas and Diana DeGette of Colorado added their 
voices to the impeachment inquiry chorus.

   "There is political risk in doing so, but there's a greater risk to our 
country in doing nothing," Castro said on Twitter. "This is a fight for our 
democracy."

   Tweeted DeGette: "The facts laid out in the Mueller report, coupled with 
this administration's ongoing attempts to stonewall Congress, leave us no other 
choice."

   One Republican congressman, Justin Amash of Michigan, has called for 
impeachment proceedings. He said Tuesday he thinks other GOP lawmakers should 
join him --- but only after reading special counsel Robert Mueller's report 
carefully.

   Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy dismissed Amash as out of step with 
House Republicans and "out of step with America." And Sen. Lindsey Graham of 
South Carolina said wryly of Amash's position, "I don't think it's going to be 
a trend-setting move."

   As Democrats weigh their options, Trump is almost taunting them by testing 
the bounds of executive power in ways few other administrations have. The White 
House contends that even former employees like McGahn do not have to abide by 
subpoenas from Congress.

   A short time later House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler issued subpoenas 
for more Trump administration officials --- former White House communications 
director Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson, a former aide in the White House 
counsel's office --- for documents and testimony.

   Trump's former White House counsel is the most-cited witness in Mueller's 
Trump-Russia investigation report, recounting the president's attempts to 
interfere with the probe. And that makes his silence all the more infuriating 
for Democrats.

   Nadler gaveled open Tuesday's hearing with a stern warning that McGahn will 
be held in contempt for failing to appear.

   "Our subpoenas are not optional," Nadler said. "We will not allow the 
president to stop this investigation."

   However, Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the committee, spoke 
scornfully of Nadler's position, calling the session a "circus" and saying the 
chairman preferred a public "fight over fact-finding."

   Democrats are "trying desperately to make something out of nothing," Collins 
said, in the aftermath of Mueller's report.

   A lawyer for McGahn had said he would follow the president's directive and 
skip Tuesday's hearing, leaving the Democrats without yet another witness --- 
and a growing debate within the party about how to respond.

   Nadler said the committee would vote to hold McGahn in contempt, though 
that's not expected until June, after lawmakers return from the Memorial Day 
recess.

   Democrats are encouraged by an early success in the legal battles , a Monday 
ruling by a federal judge against Trump on in a financial records dispute with 
Congress. Trump's team filed notice of appeal on Tuesday.

   But Pelosi's strategy hasn't been swift enough for some lawmakers. In 
particular, several members of the Judiciary panel feel they must take the lead 
in at least launching impeachment proceedings.

   They say a formal impeachment inquiry could give Democrats more standing in 
court, even if they stop short of a vote to remove the president.

   "I think that's something a lot of members of the committee --- and more and 
more members of the caucus --- think is necessary," said Rep. Steve Cohen of 
Tennessee. "I think an inquiry, as the Senate Watergate hearings were, would 
lead the public to see the misdeeds of this administration."

   Others, though, including some from more conservative districts, said they 
prefer the step-by-step approach.

   "We want to make sure that we're following all the legal processes, 
everything we've been given, to truly make the best decisions," said Rep. Lucy 
McBath of Georgia, a freshman on the Judiciary panel.

   Pelosi scheduled Wednesday's meeting with lawmakers from the Judiciary and 
Oversight committees after some members confronted her during a meeting among 
top Democrats Monday evening.

   At that time, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland led others in arguing that an 
impeachment inquiry would consolidate the Trump investigations and allow 
Democrats to keep more focus on their other legislative work, according to 
people familiar with the private conversation who requested anonymity to 
discuss it.

   Pelosi pushed back, saying that several committees are doing investigations 
already and noting that Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the chairman of the 
Oversight Committee, already had won the early court battle over Trump's 
financial documents.

   With a 235-197 Democratic majority, Pelosi would likely find support for 
starting impeachment proceedings, but it could be a tighter vote than that 
margin suggests. Some lawmakers say voters back home are more interested in 
health care and the economy. Many come from more conservative districts where 
they need to run for re-election in communities where Trump also has support.

   For Pelosi, it's a push-pull exercise as she tries to raise awareness about 
Trump's behavior without moving toward impeachment unless she knows the public 
is with Congress.

   "We've been in this thing for almost five months and now we're getting some 
results," Pelosi told lawmakers Monday night. "We've always said one thing will 
lead to another as we get information."

   But other Democrats in the meeting, several of whom have spoken publicly 
about a need to be more aggressive with Trump, are increasingly impatient. They 
include Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Ted Lieu of California and 
freshman Joe Neguse of Colorado.

   "We're in a very grave moment," said Rep. Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania, 
and "probably right now are left, with nothing but that we must open an 
inquiry."

   Tweeted Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas: Congress has made "accommodation 
after accommodation. I don't think we should wait any longer."


(CZ)

 
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