While President Donald Trump continues to stoke fears that he may try to fire federal officials involved with the Russia investigation, Trump-aligned House Republicans reportedly have drafted impeachment articles against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe.
Members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, led by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), drafted the one-page document, which was obtained by the Washington Post and The Hill. News of the articles will likely please the president, who has repeatedly denounced Mueller's probe as a "witch hunt."
Trump's outbursts have fueled a bipartisan congressional effort to protect the investigation from his interference. Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill to prevent the president from firing Mueller, and lawmakers from both parties are pressuring Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring it to the floor for a vote.
Although it seems unlikely that the impeachment articles will garner necessary support to advance in the House, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Judiciary Committee, called the development "sickening" in an interview with CNN.
"There are no limits, or no length, that they are not willing to go to just torch the Department of Justice," he said of Trump-aligned Republican lawmakers. "Voters will have their own say at the ballot box this November and I don't think they're going to look too kindly on people who think their job is to protect the president rather than to protect our democracy."
"It's sickening to hear that ... there are no limits, or no length, that they are not willing to go to just torch the Department of Justice." - Rep. Eric Swalwell on reports House conservatives are drafting articles of impeachment against Rod Rosenstein https://t.co/dlNDc3qWwZ pic.twitter.com/MGPfwi7wrC
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Billionaire Democratic mega-donor and environmentalist Tom Steyer, who is bankrolling a campaign to impeach Trump, tweeted: "Are you surprised? One person broke the law and one person works to uphold it. Guess which one the GOP is trying 'impeach'?"
The impeachment articles focus on eight charges, including claims that Rosenstein violated federal law by refusing to promptly comply with a congressional subpoena and "knowingly provided misleading statements related to his supervision of the initial Department of Justice investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged contacts with Russia when he testified under oath before Congress."
Meadows told the Post that the move comes as "a last resort option, if the Department of Justice fails to respond" to congressional requests for more information about the department's investigations. The Postnoted that it also comes as "other House Republicans have cooled their tensions with Rosenstein, who has largely capitulated to lawmakers' demands."
Over the past month, Rosenstein has turned over department documents to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), and reached a similar agreement with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).