White House lawyers are researching impeachment procedures in an effort to prepare for a possible attempt to remove President Donald Trump from office. With both houses of Congress controlled by a Republican majority, Trump’s impeachment is a distant possibility but one that the White House is preparing for, two people briefed on the discussions told CNN.
Trump faces criticism for his alleged attempts to influence an FBI investigation into reports of collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russia during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The New York Times reported Friday that Trump described firing “nut job” FBI director James Comey, who was leading the investigation, as having relieved “great pressure” on him in a White House meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador.
Russian officials bragged that they could use retired general Michael Flynn to curry favor with Trump, according to a separate CNN report. Flynn was a key adviser to Trump during his presidential campaign and resigned in February as White House National Security Adviser after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about contact he had with Russian officials.
Flynn was one of the officials investigated in the FBI probe.
The Justice Department has appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to investigate alleged ties between Trump officials and Russia.
Some leading Democrats have cooled talk of impeachment, with senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, telling reporters Wednesday “No one ought to, in my view, rush to embrace the most extraordinary remedy that involves the removal of the president from office.”
Earlier that day, Democrat Congressman Al Green called for Trump’s impeachment on the floor of the House. “This is where I stand. I will not be moved. The president must be impeached,” Green said Wednesday morning.
Debate is focused on whether Trump has committed a crime if he’s found to have attempted to interfere with the FBI investigation, with some experts making the case that his actions amount to an obstruction of justice, while others say there is insufficient evidence to prosecute.
Under the U.S. constitution, a president can be removed from office before his elected term is up if lawmakers vote to say that he committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
A White House official denied any claims of wrongdoing.