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Jan. 3, 2021, 9:03 p.m. EST

Impeachment redux? Democratic lawmakers condemn Trump’s remarks, raise question of criminality

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By Mike Murphy

Democratic lawmakers on Sunday called for swift and serious action to be taken against President Donald Trump, ranging from censure to impeachment, after he was heard in a leaked audio tape pressuring Georgia’s Republican secretary of state to “find” more votes to reverse his election loss in that state.

Read: Trump, on audio tape, presses Georgia official to ‘find’ more votes

Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson, who represents Georgia’s DeKalb County, tweeted Sunday that he would introduce a measure to censure Trump, and called on the president to step down, while referencing Trump’s self-proclaimed “perfect call” to Ukraine’s president that sparked his 2019-’20 impeachment proceedings.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the minority whip, tweeted that Trump’s latest actions merit “nothing less than a criminal investigation.”

Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., even raised the possibility of a second impeachment.

“I absolutely think it’s an impeachable offense, and if it was up to me, there would be articles on the floor quite quickly,” she told reporters Sunday on Capitol Hill. “He is attacking our very election.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., one of Trump’s most vocal critics on Capitol Hill, said “Trump’s contempt for democracy is laid bare. Once again. On tape.” He tweeted that Trump’s remarks were “potentially criminal,” and told reporters that “even in the absence of a crime, it’s potentially impeachable.”

A Washington-based watchdog group also called for Trump’s impeachment Sunday.

“The president of the United States has been caught on tape trying to rig a presidential election,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement Sunday. “This is a low point in American history and unquestionably impeachable conduct.”

“While the logistics of holding impeachment proceedings in the final two weeks of a presidency are admittedly hard to pull off, if this isn’t impeachable conduct, then literally nothing is,” Bookbinder said.

Carl Bernstein, one of the journalists who exposed the Watergate scandal, told CNN that Trump’s actions were “far worse” than Watergate, and that Trump was “subverting the very basis of our democracy.”

In reality, the possibility of a fast-track impeachment vote is extremely remote. The 117th Congress was sworn in Sunday , but the Democratic-controlled House is scheduled to be in session for only five days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. The Senate is only scheduled to meet once, Jan. 6, before the inauguration.

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