Congressmember Salud Carbajal joined the ranks of Democrats calling for the initiation of impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, citing 10 instances in which Trump sought to interfere with the investigation conducted by former special counsel Robert Mueller. Carbajal’s announcement provided the tipping point in congressional opinion to favor impeachment proceedings.
Carbajal, who privately had been leaning toward impeachment, had conducted an online poll to gauge the sentiments of his constituents. Carbajal’s office reported about 8,000 people responded to the survey request with a small majority favoring impeachment. In addition, another 4,100 constituents reportedly called or emailed Carbajal on the impeachment question, making it one of the most intensely commented upon issue in the district offices. Of those, a solid majority favored impeachment.
Among many Democrats — even Trump’s harshest critics — impeachment has proved a controversial matter. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others have strongly cautioned against impeachment, noting that Trump has the votes in the Senate no matter what Congress may eventually find. With the election right around the corner, they argue, it makes more sense to focus on achievable objectives and on beating Trump in November 2020.
Others have argued that efforts at obstruction constitute a clear criminal transgression and that Congress needs to do its constitutional duty, regardless of any obvious strategic dead-ends. They also argue that the impeachment process will give Democrats a new vehicle for dredging up incriminating details against Trump. Specifically, these Democrats — who argue it’s possible to “walk and chew gum at the same time” — hope to get Mueller’s un-redacted testimony before a federal grand jury.
Carbajal, who has been mulling the matter over, has reportedly read the Mueller report — released in May — and watched Mueller’s testimony before Congress last week. Citing evidence provided by the Mueller report, Carbajal charged Trump urged his staff to lie repeatedly to investigators regarding allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections and allegations of obstruction of justice. Mueller cited 10 specific examples in his report of such interference but declined to make criminal findings because sitting presidents can’t be charged with crimes and because the efforts at obstruction were ignored and did not succeed.
In a phone conversation, Carbajal explained his decision came from “a culmination of many factors.” It was the Mueller report, Mueller’s testimony last week, and the persistent refusal by the Trump administration to comply with multiple subpoenas or to recognize the constitutional authority granted Congress to issue such subpoenas. Those refusals to comply, Carbajal stressed, remain an ongoing problem. He conceded that any impeachment action Congress might take would be defeated in the Senate. “This is about getting down to the truth,” he stated. “Some things rise above political considerations.”
This story was updated to clarify that Carbajal provided the 118th vote to tip congressional opinion in favor of impeachment.