A majority of House Democrats have now called for opening an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump despite Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s urging the caucus to focus their attention on congressional investigations and ongoing legal battles.
Rep. Salud Carbajal, of California, put the Democrats over the halfway mark on Friday, saying in a statement that Trump “evaded truth, encouraged his staff to lie repeatedly to investigators and engaged in obstruction,” adding “that’s criminal.”
With Carbajal's announcement, 118 out of 235 House Democrats have publicly called for opening an inquiry. More than two dozen Democrats have now voiced support for moving ahead with the impeachment process since former special counsel Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees last week.
During his testimony last week, Mueller repeated his report's findings that his investigation into Trump and Russia did not exonerate the president on the question of obstruction of justice and found that Russia worked to try to help his presidential campaign.
Despite the growing calls for an impeachment inquiry, Pelosi, D-Calif., has remained steadfast in recommending restraint.
Just hours after Carbajal's announcement, Pelosi released a statement listing the various ways in which House Democrats are pursuing investigations into Trump and his administration, saying the president "will be held accountable" and that in America, "no one is above the law."
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"We owe it to our children to ensure that no present or future president can dishonor the oath of office without being held accountable," she said.
The statement hewed closely to Pelosi's previous comments about the impeachment question, including her remarks at her final weekly press conference before the House departed for its August recess.
"We will proceed when we have what we need to proceed — not one day sooner," Pelosi said last week. The speaker added that members can "espouse their own position" on impeachment and are welcome to criticize her stance. But she has continued to urge Democrats to "legislate, investigate and litigate."
Eleven committee chairs, including two leading investigations into the Trump administration — House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. — have announced their support for impeachment. But House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., whose committee has jurisdiction over impeachment, has publicly been more reserved about supporting the move.
“We may not do that, we may do that, but that’s a conclusion at the end of the process,” Nadler told reporters last week about his panel recommending articles of impeachment against Trump. He added when pressed that his committee has "in effect" been conducting an impeachment inquiry into the president.
Sixteen of the 24 Democrats on his committee also back an inquiry.
In a federal court filing on Friday, the Judiciary Committee requested the grand jury material from Mueller’s investigation and stated publicly for the first time that the panel is investigating whether to move ahead with impeachment. The court is not expected to rule on Judiciary’s request for the grand jury material for at least two months.
“What’s going on is that I think too much has been made of the phrase 'an impeachment inquiry,'" Nadler told reporters Friday. "We are doing what our court filing says we are doing, what I said we are doing, and that is to say we are using our full Article I powers to investigate the conduct of the president, and to consider what remedies there are.”
The vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., even broke ranks with leadership last week to call for opening an impeachment inquiry.
"I deeply respect the committee work of House Democrats to hold the president accountable, including hearings, subpoenas and lawsuits,” the sixth-ranking House Democrat said in a statement the day after Mueller's testimony. “All of our efforts to put the facts before the American people, however, have been met with unprecedented stonewalling and obstruction. That is why I believe we need to open an impeachment inquiry that will provide us a more formal way to fully uncover the facts."
The House voted last month to kill a resolution offered by Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, to move forward with impeachment. Green pointed to Trump’s racist comments about four freshmen Democratic congresswomen of color as grounds for launching impeachment. Just 95 Democrats voted to support the measure.
Rep. Justin Amash, a former Republican turned independent from Michigan, has also called for impeachment.