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Miami Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is calling for an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump after his legal team spent weeks stonewalling House Democrats seeking to gain more information about potential obstruction of justice.
Mucarsel-Powell, a first-term Democrat who defeated a Republican incumbent in one of the most expensive House races in the country last year, is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, where impeachment proceedings would begin.
She said her decision was not based on one particular tipping point, but that she came to the conclusion after reading the Mueller Report carefully and witnessing the tactics of Trump’s lawyers.
“I have been thinking about this, obviously, for weeks and I’ve been analyzing all the evidence,” Mucarsel-Powell told the Miami Herald. “I also reviewed the unredacted versions of [the Mueller Report] and I think that showed me what I already know, which is a president who is trying to obstruct and not being forthright and abusing his power.”
Mucarsel-Powell’s announcement is significant because she is a 2020 target for Republicans and her district has flipped between Democratic and Republican control in recent years. Most of the 74 House Democrats calling for impeachment represent safe Democratic districts where a potential Democratic primary challenger is a bigger political threat than a Republican, but earlier this week California Rep. Katie Porter, who flipped a Trump-leaning district last year, came out in favor of impeachment.
“Different members gave me different perspectives that confirmed the fact that I need to do what is right for me,” Mucarsel-Powell said. “The only difference at this point that I see is the different approaches. I’m on the Judiciary Committee and I take that responsibility very seriously. Starting an inquiry will allow us to expedite the investigation. No one wants this to drag out, but we can’t end an investigation if we’re not collecting evidence.”
Mucarsel-Powell noted that calling for an impeachment inquiry in the Judiciary Committee does not necessarily mean that the entire House of Representatives would vote on impeaching the president. A majority of Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are now in favor of impeachment, but the committee’s Democrats would need to be nearly unified in favor to outvote the Republican minority.
Mucarsel-Powell becomes the second member of Congress from Florida to call for impeachment proceedings to begin. Central Florida Rep. Val Demings, who is also a member of the Judiciary Committee, called for impeachment after the Mueller Report was released to the public.
“Honestly we each have been thinking about this for quite some time,” Mucarsel-Powell said. “I think different people make decisions on their own time.”
When asked about impeachment weeks ago, Mucarsel-Powell echoed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s approach of continuing congressional oversight investigations without officially launching an impeachment probe, fearful of the potential political fallout of a process that has no chance of success in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate.
“It serves no purpose to go against leadership. If something comes up that I disagree with, I’ll make my voice heard,” she said earlier this month.
But Mucarsel-Powell changed her tune on Friday and informed party leaders of her decision. She hopes that Republicans in the House and Senate will take a principled stand on the Constitution if the investigation produces enough evidence that Trump tried to tamper with Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference of the 2016 campaign.
South Florida’s other Democratic members, some of whom represent safe districts, have not called for impeachment proceedings to begin.
The holdouts include Broward Rep. Ted Deutch, who is also a member of the Judiciary Committee, along with Reps. Donna Shalala, Frederica Wilson and Alcee Hastings.
“We love a good book in America, but we love to see the movie,” Deutch said on MSNBC earlier this week. “Bring in [former White House counsel] Don McGhan, bring in the people who are the subjects of the Mueller report so that people can hear the outrageous conduct that the president told them to pursue. Then we’re in a position to decide how to go forward.”
As of Friday, 74 House Democrats and one Republican, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, are in favor of beginning impeachment proceedings.
Read Mucarsel-Powell’s full statement below:
“I did not run for office to impeach the President. I ran to lower health care costs, protect our communities from gun violence, and preserve our environment. While my constituents entrusted me to fight for them on these issues every day, they also entrusted me to represent them, protect their rights, and uphold the Constitution.
As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I have a heightened sense of duty to be a check and balance on this Administration. In this capacity, I have spent countless hours reading Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, analyzing the evidence on which the report is based, and listening to the testimony of constitutional experts, prosecutors, and some of the report’s key players.
Mueller’s report recounts ten clear and unmistakable attempts by the President to attack the rule of law and obstruct the fair administration of justice. There is an undeniable pattern in the President’s actions that reveals his willingness to lie to the American people, his willingness to place his own interests above those of our democracy, and his willingness to break the law for his personal gain.
Mueller confirmed these facts in writing. During his public appearance, he reiterated one of the most important and critical lines contained in the report: “if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.” Mueller made no such statement.
But the President’s egregious and troubling actions are not limited to those detailed in the report. Since the release of Mueller’s report, the President has ignored multiple congressional subpoenas and asserted an abusive and illegitimate use of executive privilege. All of this in an attempt to hide information and undermine the checks and balances of our government. This President has engaged in behavior that we have not seen, nor would we have allowed, from the other 44 men who have occupied that office.
This is why I support opening an impeachment inquiry into the President.
I have not come to this decision easily. After talking with the people of Florida’s 26th congressional district, I know that while many will agree with my decision, some will disagree. Ultimately, I believe my duty to uphold the Constitution has no political allegiance.
I didn’t have the privilege of being born in this country; I immigrated here from Ecuador. Growing up in Latin America, I saw what happens when corrupt, authoritarian leaders disregard the rule of law and put their interests above the people. My family came to this country seeking better opportunities and the freedoms that are enumerated in our Constitution.
We are in a moment that will define our country, our democracy, and our children’s future. I took an oath when I became a citizen that I would support and defend the Constitution. On January 3, 2019, I swore to uphold these same principles when I became a member of Congress. Today, I stand with my colleagues who believe it is our duty to protect our country, it is our duty to protect our democracy, and it is our duty to ensure no person — not even the President — is above the law.”