CNN: Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren lays out why calling for impeachment proceedings against President Trump is important to the future of democracy, following the release of the redacted Mueller report.
"If any other human being in this country had done what's documented in the Mueller report, they would be arrested and put in jail," Warren said.
From Monday night's CNN town hall event:
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We’re going to have questions from the audience in a minute. I do just want to ask you, you have called for impeachment proceedings to be initiated against President Trump. What do you say to those Democrats who say, look, this is not the time, it’s going to take away the focus from winning in 2020? Speaker Pelosi told her caucus again just today that she no plans to immediately initiate impeachment proceedings.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): So, there is no political inconvenience exception to the United States Constitution.
WARREN: This one is -- if I can, I want to take a little time on this because I think this is really important.
Last Thursday, I had been out -- I had been to South Carolina. This was all about climate change. That's where I was, South Carolina, coastal communities protesting off shore drilling.
I then came to Colorado, the biggest drought in 1,200 years. And then to Utah where they had one of the worst wildfire seasons in a generation.
I’m on an airplane and the Mueller report drops. And so, I start reading it on the airplane, I read it on through the evening, I read it into the wee hours of the morning. And when I get to the end, three things just jump off the page.
I don't care if you're a Democrat, a Republican, an independent, a libertarian, a vegetarian.
WARREN: Three things just totally jump off the page. The first is that a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 election in order to help Donald Trump. The evidence is just there. Read it, footnote after footnote, page after page documentation.
Part two, Donald Trump welcomed that help.
So, on the first one about what they did, understand, this was a sophisticated attack. They attacked part of voting system. That's going to be an ongoing federal investigation. They hacked into more than 50 computers at the DNC, the DCCC, a very serious attack.
And Donald Trump welcoming it -- in the Mueller report, just read it. He gets off the phone from an unnamed caller and looks up and says to the other person on the phone, there are more leaks coming.
The idea that he was welcoming what was happening from the Russian government, and by the summer of 2016, the report documents that by that point, the Trump adminis -- the Trump campaign actually had a worked out formal process for dealing with the leaks that were coming in from the Russians. So that's part two.
Part three is when the federal government starts to investigate part one and part two, Donald Trump took repeated steps aggressively to try to halt the investigation, derail the investigation, push the investigation somewhere else, but otherwise keep that investigation from going forward and turning into a serious investigation about a hostile foreign government that it attacked us and about his own personal interests.
So, here's how I see this: if any other human being in this country had done what's documented in the Mueller report, they would be arrested and put in jail. Obstruction of justice is a serious crime in this country, but --
XXX they would be arrested and put in jail.
Obstruction of justice is a serious crime in this country. But Mueller believed because of the directions from Donald Trump's Justice Department that he could not bring a criminal indictment against a sitting president. I think he's wrong on that, but that's what he believed.
So he serves the whole thing up to the United States Congress and says, in effect, if there's going to be any accountability, that accountability has to come from the Congress. And the tool that we are given for that accountability is the impeachment process.
This is not about politics. This is about principle. This is about what kind of a democracy we have. In a dictatorship, everything in government revolves around protecting the one person at the center, but not in our democracy and not under our Constitution.
We have checks and balances, and we have to proceed here in a way understanding our place in history that not only protects democracy now, but protects democracy when the next president comes in and the next president and the president after that.
COOPER: But you...
WARREN: That's our responsibility.
COOPER: But you started off by saying -- by talking about some of your travels and people talking about climate change and their concerns and tabletop issues.
WARREN: Yes. Yes.
COOPER: Doesn't putting a lot of Democrats' focus on impeaching the president, which is not going to pass in the Senate, it's not really going to go anywhere in that sense, doesn't that take away focus from the tabletop issues that you and other Democrats say they want to run on?
WARREN: So, you know, let me just say, if you've actually read the Mueller report, it's all laid out there. It's not like it's going to take a long time to figure this out. It's there. It's got the footnotes. It's got the points. It connects directly to the law.
But this really is fundamentally -- I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and so did everybody else in the Senate and in the House. And I believe that every person in the Senate and the House ought to have to vote and to say either, yeah, that's OK with me, yeah, let a president just step in the way he did when he told the White House counsel to go fire Mueller, and then told the White House counsel to go lie about having told the White House counsel to go fire Mueller, and then told the White House counsel to write a letter saying that Donald Trump had not told him to go fire Mueller, and then to say, why on Earth would you take notes about what I said to you? The lawyers I deal with never put anything in writing.
If there are people in the House or the Senate who want to say that's what a president can do when the president is being investigated for his own wrongdoings or when a foreign government attacks our country, then they should have to take that vote and live with it for the rest of their lives.