Rep. Katherine Clark, the vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, has become the highest-ranking member of congressional leadership to call for an impeachment inquiry.
In a Thursday statement, the Massachusetts Democrat said that opening an impeachment inquiry will establish “a more formal way to fully uncover the facts” since Congress has been repeatedly stonewalled by the White House over its investigation into President Donald Trump and Russian election interference.
“Since the release of the Mueller Report in April, it has been clear that the President committed impeachable offenses by welcoming interference from a hostile foreign power in the 2016 election and then attempting to obstruct the investigation into his unpatriotic actions,” Clark said. “Moreover, he said he would do it all again if given the chance.”
In the first 24 hours after former special counsel Robert Mueller warned Congress that the threat of foreign powers interfering in U.S. elections remained very real, Republicans in the Senate twice blocked Democrats from advancing House-passed bills aimed at strengthening election security.
“They’re doing it as we sit here,” Mueller told lawmakers on Wednesday, speaking of Russian election interference. He added that emboldened by Trump’s example, future candidates who knew about foreign powers influencing an election might well choose to keep that information from authorities.
Yet on Wednesday, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) blocked Democratic senators from seeking unanimous consent to pass three election security bills that the House had already passed. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) similarly blocked a House-passed bill to appropriate $775 million for states’ election security.
The GOP’s public reasoning is that Congress has already done enough to safeguard elections, according to CNN. While federal candidates are barred from seeking or accepting foreign help, they are not legally required to report offers of such help to the federal government, Newsweek reported.
Clark said in her statement that Mueller’s testimony was “disturbing,” but that McConnell’s block on an election security bill was “the moment that truly stunned me.”
“We can’t allow Republican inaction to prop the door open for thieves to steal an election,” Clark said. “We must be relentless in exposing the truth, act to protect our national security, and ensure that every eligible American can vote without foreign interference.”