Democrats split on whether to include Mueller obstruction in articles of impeachment

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., on Sunday would not commit to including evidence of obstruction contained in that report in the articles of impeachment.
Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, during a press conference on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2019.
Nadler would not commit Sunday to including evidence of obstruction contained in the Mueller report into the articles of impeachment; Schiff said his advice for colleagues was to file articles "for which there is the strongest and most overwhelming evidence."Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images file

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By Allan Smith

Democrats are publicly split on whether to include evidence from former special counsel Robert Mueller's report in the articles of impeachment being drafted against President Donald Trump.

Democrats, as NBC News has reported, are considering one article of impeachment related to the Mueller report and obstruction of justice in addition to articles of impeachment directly related to Trump's conduct toward Ukraine. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that Democrats would proceed with drafting articles of impeachment.

Speaking with both NBC's "Meet the Press" and CNN's "State of the Union" in interviews broadcast Sunday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. would not commit to including evidence of obstruction contained in the Mueller report in the articles of impeachment, telling CNN, "We're going to have to take a lot of considerations into account."

On Trump's push for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and Democrats, Nadler said there was "considerable direct evidence" and that Democrats' case "if presented to a jury would be a guilty verdict in about three minutes flat."

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told CBS's "Face the Nation" he believed Democrats should focus articles of impeachment "on those issues that provide the greatest threat to the country." Pointing to his pre-congressional career as a prosecutor, Schiff said his advice for colleagues is to file articles for which "there is the strongest and most overwhelming evidence," not to charge everything they possibly could.

And Schiff said there was "overwhelming evidence" Trump "essentially sought to cheat" in the 2020 election by asking another country to involve themselves in the electoral process. Trump has denied he was asking Ukraine to probe former Vice President Joe Biden because he is running in the 2020 election.

On ABC's "This Week," Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and a member of the Judiciary Committee, told ABC's "This Week" that Democrats should only file articles of impeachment "on those items where we have direct evidence."

"And there is a lot of direct evidence relative to the abuse of power and Ukraine and the Russians, relative to the Biden investigation," she said. "The Mueller report is a report. We don't have a direct witness testimony for most of that, so I think we'd be on firmest ground to move forward where we have direct evidence as with the report we will receive tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. from the Intelligence Committee."

Meanwhile, on "Fox News Sunday," Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., a member of the Judiciary Committee, said "all of the potential articles of impeachment are on the table."

Democrats have offered divergent opinions in recent days over whether to include Mueller's report in articles of impeachment. On Friday, Rep. Max Rose, D-N.Y., warned against including the former special counsel's work, telling CNN he "was very serious" about his anti-impeachment stance prior to Ukraine.

On the other hand, Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a member of the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, told reporters Thursday that "if we're going to say that the president basically refusing to allow members of the administration to obey lawful subpoenas in the Intel investigation then why would we not take a look at the president doing the same thing during the Mueller investigation."

"So I think it's something that we certainly will have to look at just because of the similarities, whether you prevent it — persons of the administration and people who no longer work with the administration during the Mueller investigation from obeying lawful subpoenas why wouldn’t we look at," she said then. "I think we should at least look at it now."