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WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left open the possibility Monday of impeachment of Donald Trump during a conference call with Democrats, saying "if that’s the place the facts take us, that’s the place we have to go."
“We have to save our democracy. This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about saving our democracy,” Pelosi said in a call with her colleagues, according to a source on the call. But Pelosi also urged Democrats to first focus on following the facts.
"Whether it’s articles of impeachment or investigations, it’s the same obtaining of facts. We don’t have to go to articles of impeachment to obtain the facts, the presentation of facts," she said.
The nearly hour-and-a-half call was the first time Democrats had all spoken following the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the investigation into Russian election interference.
"There’s real consensus that we need to take this responsibility seriously and people are very sober about the implications about the work that lies ahead and committed to making sure that we hold the president accountable," said Rep. David Cicilline, a member of the Judiciary Committee and the chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, which helps the party with messaging.
The Rhode Island Democrat said "there were a number of people," including himself, who said that the report showed actions by Trump that were impeachable. But he added "no one was saying file articles of impeachment today."
Cicilline said that the Mueller report "lays out a road map" for how Democrats should investigate.
"The speaker has been very clear that Congress will not shirk on its responsibility to hold the president accountable, but that we must proceed in a judicious responsible manner," he said.
"While our views range from proceeding to investigate the findings of the Mueller report or proceeding directly to impeachment, we all firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth," Pelosi said in a letter to House Democrats earlier on Monday afternoon. "It is also important to know that the facts regarding holding the President accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings."
She added: "Whether currently indictable or not, it is clear that the President has, at a minimum, engaged in highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior which does not bring honor to the office he holds."
The 448-page report detailed multiple contacts between Russian operatives and Trump associates during the 2016 campaign but investigators did not find evidence of a criminal conspiracy. The report documented a series of actions by Trump to derail the special counsel's investigation, although it did not reach a conclusion on whether he illegally sought to obstruct justice.
Lawmakers are on a two-week-long recess and most have been back home in their districts, or traveling abroad like Pelosi was last week.Democrats seized on what they said were "damning" details in the report, particularly the attempts by the president to interfere with the probe. Some Democrats, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is running for president, said Friday it was time for the House to begin impeachment proceedings.
But House Democratic leadership was still trying to figure out how to deal with impeachment and keep all factions satisfied. A parade of top Democrats gave interviews over the weekend and refused to rule out impeachment, but they also said there was much more work to be done before making a determination.
"We may get to that. We may not," Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee – where impeachment proceedings begin – said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday.
"I do think, if proven, which hasn't been proven yet, if proven, some of this would be impeachable, yes. Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable," the New York Democrat said.
Trump: 'No crimes'
Trump on Monday tweeted: "Only high crimes and misdemeanors can lead to impeachment. There were no crimes by me (No Collusion, No Obstruction), so you can’t impeach. It was the Democrats that committed the crimes, not your Republican President! Tables are finally turning on the Witch Hunt!"
Mi., 24.04.201910:12 - 15:20