House Democrats may extend the impeachment inquiry beyond U.S. President Donald Trump’s Ukraine-related activities, the general counsel behind the investigation recently indicated.
Democrats can impeach Trump even if his Ukraine-related actions are not criminal, Douglas Letter, the lawyer, argued before a federal judge last week.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) handpicked Letter in January to serve as the general counsel for the Democrat-led House of Representatives.
Since then, he has been at the center of strategizing the House Democrats’ impeachment fight against the president, CNN reported Thursday.
Letter does not talk to the press. CNN, however, quoted him as telling a federal judge last week that the impeachment probe may extend beyond Ukraine.
“I can’t emphasize enough: It’s not just Ukraine. If it’s criminal, but even if it’s not — President Trump can clearly be impeached if he was obstructing justice,” the lawyer reportedly said.
Letter also said that even simply lying to the American public could prompt impeachment. In the court proceeding, Letter was fighting on behalf of House Democrats to obtain the FBI memos from interviews with key White House witnesses that Robert Mueller conducted as part of his two-year probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether anyone from President Donald Trump’s campaign was involved.
The lawyer, who reportedly spent four decades at the U.S. Department of Justice, is reportedly working on behalf of House Democrats with a team of nine attorneys.
The impeachment probe is supposed to focus on determining whether Trump abused his power as president by withholding aid to Ukraine in a bid to get dirt on Joe Biden.
A “whistleblower’s” allegation that Trump made a quid pro quo offer to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a call on July 25 triggered the impeachment probe. The “whistleblower” claimed Trump demanded Zelensky’s cooperation in investigating Biden and his son Hunter in exchange for aid.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the leader of the probe, has also said, however, that there does not need to be a Ukraine-linked quid pro quo to impeach Trump.
Former President Barack Obama refused to cooperate with congressional investigators seeking information on his administration’s fatal gun-running operation known as Fast and Furious. Nevertheless, neither Republicans nor Democrats sought to impeach him for it.
Under Fast and Furious, the Obama administration allowed criminals in Mexico to buy hundreds of guns. Some of the weapons were used to kill U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. They were also used to kill or wound an estimated 300 Mexicans.
In 2012, some Democrats joined their Republican colleagues in voting in favor of holding then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with their investigation into the fatal operation.