U.S. Senator Patty Murray, the third highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, called for the House to launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, days after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified on the findings of his Russia investigation for the first time on Capitol Hill earlier this week.
"I agree with my fellow members of the Washington delegation that, as we have learned about the gravity of the potential threats to our democracy identified in special counsel Mueller's report, it has become clear that the House should begin proceedings to determine whether the president's action necessitate impeachment," Murray said in a statement posted to Twitter on Sunday.
Four Democrats from Washington state — Reps. Suzan DelBene, DennyHeck, Derek Kilmer and Kim Schrier — also came out in support of launching impeachment inquiries on Sunday, which brings the total number of Democratic lawmakers who have indicated they will vote in favor to 104, 14 shy of a majority of all House Democrats. Those who have come out in support of launching impeachment proceedings have also suggested that more Democrats will likely join their position in the coming weeks.
Following Mueller's congressional hearing on Wednesday, more than a dozen Democratic members of Congress threw their support behind opening a formal impeachment inquiry. During his roughly six-hour testimony, the former special counsel answered questions from lawmakers about his two-year-long investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the 448-page report, released in April, detailing the key findings of the probe.
Despite Trump's near-constant claims of innocence and "total exoneration," Mueller clearly reiterated that his investigation did not exonerate the president and denied that the probe was "a witch hunt." "We did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime," the former special counsel said.
The mounting support for impeachment among Democrats has done little to sway House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who argues against the move, saying it would be too divisive, damage the Democratic party and probably fail when it reaches the GOP-controlled Senate. Pelosi also fears that the fallout from a failed impeachment inquiry would strengthen Trump's chances of being reelected in 2020.
Pelosi has, however, encouraged House Democrats to gather additional information on Trump through probes into his personal finances and business dealings in order to form a more complete picture of his conduct, before making a determination on whether to launch impeachment proceedings.