Democrats continue push for impeachment; reaction and analysis on 'The Five.'
The House Judiciary Committee on Monday subpoenaed former White House aide Rob Porter as part of its investigation into whether President Trump obstructed justice during former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
The subpoena is part of the committee’s probe into alleged obstruction, corruption and abuse of power by the president and his associates.
“[A]ny other American would have been prosecuted based on the evidence Special Counsel Mueller uncovered in his report,” Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said in a statement Monday. “Rob Porter was prominently featured in the Special Counsel’s description of President Trump’s efforts to obstruct justice by directing then-White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire the Special Counsel, and then ordering him to lie about it.”
The committee subpoenaed Porter for testimony, slated for Sept. 17. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn were also subpoenaed, earlier this month, to provide testimony that same day.
Nadler, D-N.Y., said the committee intends to hold hearings and obtain testimony “as part of its efforts to hold the president accountable” as they move forward with their investigation.
“This will help the Committee determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the President or other Article 1 remedies,” Nadler said Monday. “No one is above the law.”
Last month, the committee authorized subpoenas for Porter, Lewandowski, and Dearborn, as well as former Attorney General Jeff Sessions; former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner; former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn; former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn; former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly; publisher of the National Enquirer David Pecker and chief content officer Dylan Howard; former Stormy Daniels lawyer Keith Davidson; and Assistant Attorney General Joseph “Jody” Hunt.
Earlier this year, Nadler made a sweeping request for documents as part of the expansive Trump probe, calling for responses from 81 agencies, entities and individuals. Nadler sent document requests to the majority of the individuals the committee plans to subpoena, including Kushner, Flynn, Sessions, Lewandowski, and others. In March, a GOP source on the committee told Fox News that only a small group had provided documents and met the Nadler-imposed deadline.
The committee, which would oversee any impeachment proceedings against the president, also announced last month that the committee is running an "impeachment investigation." This month, Nadler referred to that probe as "formal impeachment proceedings."
Nadler also told The Washington Post earlier this month that if the panel decides to "report articles of impeachment, we could get to that in the late fall … or the latter part of the year."
At this point, more than half of the 235 House Democrats support launching a formal impeachment inquiry into the president. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has remained cool to the idea, calling the process “divisive” for the country. But Assistant House Speaker Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., last week broke with Pelosi and said he supports moving forward with an inquiry.
The escalation in support for impeachment proceedings came after Mueller delivered his highly anticipated testimony for hours on Capitol Hill last month before both the House Judiciary and House Intelligence Committees. Many felt that they were given little new material to fuel a case for impeachment after Mueller’s back-to-back hearings, but Nadler said it was simply “an inflection point.”
Nadler claimed Mueller's report showed the Trump campaign welcomed Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump "repeatedly lied to cover it up" — and his testimony "removed all doubt" about those points.
Also last month, the committee filed a petition in D.C. federal court to obtain grand jury materials from Mueller’s investigation. The petition claimed that the panel needed the information in order to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment. It is unclear at this point when a decision will be reached on that request.
Nadler called the grand jury materials “critically important” for the investigation. In the petition, Democrats on the committee noted that because Justice Department policies do not allow the prosecution of a sitting president, the House of Representatives is “the only institution of the federal government” that can hold Trump accountable.
“The House must have access to all evidence,” Nadler said. “We are exercising our constitutional authority. We are continuing the investigation of President Trump’s malfeasances, and we will do and consider what we have to consider, including whether we should recommend Articles of Impeachment to the House. We may, we may not. It remains to be seen."
It's unclear what new information might be found in the grand jury transcripts. Many of the high-profile witnesses connected to the White House, for instance, appeared for voluntary questioning before Mueller's team rather than before the grand jury.
Democrats have been seeking the grand jury material from a redacted version of Mueller's report for months. Attorney General Bill Barr made public a version that protected sensitive sources and methods, grand jury material, and more. Grand jury material is typically kept secret, in accordance with U.S. code.
Mueller did not determine whether the president committed a crime with regard to his inquiry on obstruction of justice. Mueller and his team also did not find sufficient evidence to charge anyone associated with the president with conspiracy to coordinate with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.