Top-Ranking Congressional Democrat Reveals That ‘Formal Impeachment Hearings’ Against Donald Trump Have Begun

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A top-ranking congressional Democrat just revealed that formal impeachment hearings against Donald Trump have officially begun.

Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said for the first time publicly that his panel is conducting an impeachment inquiry into whether Trump obstructed justice regarding the Russia investigation. As Politico reported, the committee had been seeking grand jury materials and testimony from Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation but had shied away from referring to it as an impeachment inquiry.

As the report noted, Nadler was one of many Democrats who have been pushing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to begin and publicly acknowledge formal impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. Pelosi has been famously reticent about moving forward, saying that Democrats must not proceed without ironclad evidence and the support of both Republicans and the American people.

Many Democrats have pushed back in recent weeks, saying the results of the Russia investigation and testimony from Robert Mueller have given all the evidence needed to start proceedings. There has been a flood of Democratic representatives speaking out, leading to Nadler’s announcement that his panel’s investigation is the first step toward a possible impeachment of Donald Trump.

“This is formal impeachment proceedings,” Nadler told CNN in an interview on Thursday, via Politico. “We are investigating all the evidence, gathering the evidence. And we will [at the] conclusion of this — hopefully by the end of the year — vote to vote articles of impeachment to the House floor. Or we won’t. That’s a decision that we’ll have to make. But that’s exactly the process we’re in right now.”

Though Nadler did not go as far as other Democrats who said that the evidence already exists to move forward with impeachment, it shows an increasing willingness on the part of Democratic leadership to wade into impeachment hearings.

As the Politico report noted, Nadler’s timeline would mean impeachment hearings would be ramping up in the middle of the 2020 Democratic primary, which could be a tricky proposition for Democratic candidates but also potentially damaging for Trump in his re-election bid.

Nadler’s committee has continued to push for evidence surrounding Trump’s possible obstruction of justice. As CNN reported, the House Judiciary Committee filed a lawsuit to compel former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify. The lawsuit claims that McGahn is the “most important witness” to the investigation, as the Russia report outlined a number of ways that Trump had asked McGahn to interfere with Robert Mueller’s investigation.