Politics

Democrats Cite BuzzFeed Report as Cause for Impeachment

Representative Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee—the panel with the power to begin impeachment proceedings against the president—also promised to “get to the bottom of it.” And even Barr, Trump’s attorney general nominee, who wrote a 19-page memo arguing that Mueller’s obstruction inquiry is “fatally misconceived,” acknowledged in that same memo that obstruction is an impeachable offense. “If a president knowingly or destroys or alters evidence, suborns perjury, or induces a witness to change testimony, or commits any act deliberately impairing the integrity of availability of evidence, then he, like anyone else, commits the crime of obstruction,” Barr wrote. “Indeed, the acts of obstruction alleged against Presidents Nixon and Clinton in their respective impeachments were all such ‘bad acts’ involving the impairment of evidence.”

The FBI began investigating whether Trump was a Kremlin agent in the chaotic days following Comey’s firing in May 2017, opening a counterintelligence probe into the president to determine whether he was acting in Russia’s interests rather than in America’s, according to The Times. FBI leaders felt that Trump’s attempt to obstruct the Russia investigation—he told NBC’s Lester Holt that he fired Comey because of “this Russia thing”—was itself a serious national-security issue.

But the first in-court evidence that Trump may have been compromised by Russia while Russian President Vladimir Putin was waging a direct attack on the election didn’t come until last November, when Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timing of his negotiations to build a Trump Tower Moscow—and about how often he discussed the deal with Trump during the campaign. Cohen contacted the Kremlin “asking for assistance in connection with the Moscow Project” in January 2016, and was encouraged by Trump to travel to Moscow to clinch a deal during the election, according to BuzzFeed. He is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 7 before he begins a three-year prison sentence in March.

With Democrats in control of the House, Trump could well be impeached. But removing him from office, which would require an affirmative vote from the Republican-controlled Senate, is another question entirely. A spokesman for Republican Senator Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, declined to comment on the BuzzFeed report, but indicated that the committee still wants to hear from Cohen on this and other issues. “Mr. Cohen has had, for months now, a request to return to the committee to provide additional closed-door testimony,” the spokesman, Ben Khouri, said. “I will let the House members comment about impeachment or not,” Democratic Senator Mark Warner, the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters on Friday. “Our investigation, which is the only remaining bipartisan investigation, is continuing, to try to get all the facts and get them out to the American public.”

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