Calls for an impeachment inquiry grew after special counsel Robert Mueller said he could not indict Trump and suggested it was Congress' role to press ahead with charges.
A growing number of members of Congress are calling for the House to launch an impeachment inquiry, after special counsel Robert Mueller broke his silence on Wednesday to clarify that he was legally barred from indicting Trump and that Congress has the power to hold the president accountable.
As of May 29, according to a Shareblue count, 50 lawmakers in both the House and Senate — 48 Democrats, one Republican, and one Independent — say the House should formally launch an impeachment inquiry into Trump based on the evidence presented in Mueller's report that Trump attempted to obstruct justice and interfere with the Russia inquiry.
That number is up from a week ago, when 29 lawmakers were calling for an impeachment inquiry.
The large number of additional lawmakers calling for an impeachment inquiry came after Mueller said on Wednesday that his report does not exonerate Trump on the obstruction of justice allegations, and strongly suggested that it is up to Congress to decide whether to charge Trump with a crime.
"The opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing," Mueller said Wednesday.
Mueller made the public statement, his first in the more than two years since his appointment as special counsel, because he said his investigation is now over and he is resigning from the Department of Justice.
But he made clear in his comments that he does not believe Trump is innocent on the obstruction of justice matter, and that his hands were simply tied on the question of seeking an indictment.
"The order appointing me special counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation," Mueller said from a podium at the Department of Justice. "We conducted that investigation and we kept the office of the acting attorney general apprised of the progress of our work. And as set forth in the report after that investigation, if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime."
A number of high-profile Democrats had called for an impeachment inquiry before Mueller's statement on Wednesday.
But more high-profile Democrats, including Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), came forward after Mueller's comments to say an impeachment inquiry is now needed.
"Robert Mueller’s statement makes it clear: Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately," Booker tweeted Wednesday shortly after Mueller spoke.
"This Administration has continued to stonewall Congress’s oversight," Booker added. "Beginning impeachment proceedings is the only path forward."
For now, it's unclear whether the House will begin an impeachment inquiry.
But Mueller's public comments certainly increased the likelihood that the House goes down that path.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.