Maryland’s highest-ranking U.S. House members expressed growing frustration Tuesday at President Donald Trump’s “stonewalling” of Congress, but they continued to stop short of calling for an impeachment inquiry.
“I think what the president has done has put us in a position where we cannot get any information to do the oversight that we need to do,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, in a Tuesday night statement to The Baltimore Sun, echoing an interview he gave on CNN.
“And that basically ties our hands and makes us, with regard to oversight, powerless,” said Cummings, who chairs the Oversight and Reform Committee and was sued by the president last month over a committee subpoena seeking years of Trump’s financial statements. “The question now becomes: What do we do, do we allow this to continue, and where do we end up if we do that? I’m still mulling it over.”
He went further on CNN, saying, "I'm getting there" regarding impeachment proceedings.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Montgomery County Democrat and former constitutional law professor, said in an interview Tuesday night that “it’s time to initiate an impeachment inquiry. We’re not talking about articles of impeachment, which is the end of the process.”
Raskin said he was influenced by the “11 episodes of obstruction of justice” cited in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The second-term Democrat said he wants to “hear where everybody else is” on launching an inquiry.
“We’re going to work collectively,” he said.
Democratic leaders, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Southern Maryland, have been cautious about impeachment but expressed increased anger at the refusal of the president and his administration to comply with subpoenas seeking financial records and testimony.
On Tuesday, former White House counsel Don McGahn did not heed the House Judiciary Committee’s call to appear at a hearing into the Mueller investigation.
“The administration’s unprecedented pattern of obstruction and stonewalling is unacceptable, and Congress has a responsibility to hold the president accountable,” Hoyer said in a written statement to The Sun.
“We are confronting what might be the largest cover-up by any administration in history. The American people deserve to know whether their government is acting in their best interests,” Hoyer said. “We must allow the House committees to continue their investigations, and we’ll see where the facts lead.”
Hoyer’s statement did not mention the word "impeachment.”
Neither did a statement by Democratic Rep. David Trone, whose district stretches from the Washington suburbs to western Maryland.
“Like most Americans, I’m troubled by the information uncovered in the Mueller report and by the administration’s refusal to comply with legitimate requests by congressional committees,” Trone said. “I trust the Speaker on if and when we should go beyond the five ongoing congressional investigations.”
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Baltimore County Democrat who is a former prosecutor, said through a spokeswoman that the president’s “constant stonewalling” could be leading the House “down the road to impeachment.”
If the administration continues its obstruction, Ruppersberger believes “we may have no choice but to start the process,” spokeswoman Jaime Lennon said.
A small but growing group of House Democrats — including Reps. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania — have split from the leadership and said that Trump has crossed a line that should trigger the impeachment process.
Rep. Andy Harris, the Maryland delegation’s only Republican, had a different take.
“Americans are growing tired of the Democrats’ infatuation with reversing the outcome of the last presidential election, and want Congress to deal with the real problems like bringing down the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs and securing our border from drugs and MS-13,” the Baltimore County lawmaker said.
Cummings has been careful in his language but has said before he could see impeachment proceedings becoming necessary in the future.
Last month, Trump and his business organization sued Cummings, alleging he crossed a constitutional line with a subpoena to the president’s longtime accountant seeking years of financial statements. But a court recently ruled that the president can’t block the subpoena.