Politics & Government

‘Trump may leave us no choice’: NC Democrats moving closer to supporting impeachment

Trump: “I don’t do cover-ups”

President Trump denied House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's accusation that he is engaged in a "cover-up" in relation to current investigations into the administration during a press conference on May 22, 2019.
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President Trump denied House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's accusation that he is engaged in a "cover-up" in relation to current investigations into the administration during a press conference on May 22, 2019.

North Carolina’s three Democrats in the U.S. House say they are getting closer to supporting impeachment steps against President Donald Trump, citing the administration’s stymieing of House investigations.

“The President has demonstrated a clear disregard for the rule of law and he must be held accountable. Impeachment is not off the table,” Rep. Alma Adams, a Charlotte Democrat, said in a statement.

Rep. G. K. Butterfield’s constituents in eastern North Carolina want to know why the Democratic-led House is not pursuing impeachment. So he does his best to give them the pros and cons of trying to remove the president from office, taking, for now, his lead from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has resisted calls for an impeachment inquiry.

But Butterfield, a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, knows members can walk that line for only so long.

“We are at a tipping point in this whole impeachment thing where members are going to have to crystallize their positions on impeachment. I’m not there yet, but we’re getting pretty darn close,” Butterfield, a Wilson Democrat, told McClatchy this week.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, after a two-year investigation, concluded that Trump and members of his campaign did not collude with Russia during the 2016 election. Mueller said he could not conclude either way if Trump committed obstruction of justice and bring charges or even recommend them. Attorney General Bill Barr, a Trump appointee, concluded there was no obstruction of justice, angering many Democrats who felt that decision was better left to Congress.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 48 percent of Americans do not think the House should hold impeachment hearings, while 32 percent think Congress should continue investigating the president and 17 percent believe there is enough evidence now for the House to begin impeachment hearings.

While the Mueller report’s conclusions may have chilled impeachment talk, the Trump administration’s refusal to cooperate with congressional investigations has brought it back.

The Trump administration has not turned over the president’s tax returns and stopped former White House counsel Don McGahn from testifying before a House committee. It told a former official not to comply with a subpoena over security clearances. The full House has yet to see an unredacted version of the Mueller report.

“If this cover up continues, President Trump may leave us no choice,” said Rep. David Price, a Chapel Hill Democrat.

Trump and allies like Rep. Mark Meadows, who represents far western North Carolina, said the Democratic investigations are tantamount to a “do-over” for the Mueller report. Trump said this week he refuses to work with the House on an infrastructure bill or lowering prescription drug prices until they drop their investigations.

“A question every American should ask: what on earth was the point of a taxpayer funded special counsel if we’re going to demand every witness testify again—after the case is already closed?” Meadows tweeted after the House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena for former White House communications direction Hope Hicks.

“They’re convinced they’ll find something Mueller didn’t find ... in a 2 year investigation. It’s as preposterous as it sounds,” Meadows tweeted separately.

Butterfield, a former North Carolina Supreme Court justice, said the administration’s defiance of Congress is troubling.

“The thing that bothers me the most, and maybe this is the judge in me coming out, is the disrespect for the rule of law and unwillingness to respect a subpoena,” he said. “When you make a blanket statement that you’re not going to honor any subpoenas coming from the legislative branch of government, I think it is defying Congress and is a blanket violation of the president’s oath of office.”

He wants Mueller to testify before a House committee. Adams, too, supports additional investigations.

“Before we move forward the American people deserve all the facts. That is why I support an impeachment inquiry,” she said. “Congress has a sacred responsibility to obtain the information necessary to determine the next steps.”

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Brian Murphy covers North Carolina’s congressional delegation and state issues from Washington, D.C., for The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer and The Herald-Sun. He grew up in Cary and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill. He previously worked for news organizations in Georgia, Idaho and Virginia. Reach him at 202.383.6089 or bmurphy@mcclatchydc.com.
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