U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan is wading into the battle among congressional Democrats on whether to move toward impeaching President Donald Trump, saying Trump's recent defiance of Congress must trigger an impeachment inquiry.
Pocan, D-Black Earth, previously sought to downplay the possibility of impeaching Trump. After the release of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report last month, Pocan said Congress first needed to obtain more information about whether Trump obstructed justice in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
But in a statement issued Tuesday, Pocan said Trump's unwillingness to comply with congressional subpoenas and other attempts at oversight have changed his view.
"Regrettably, the President’s most recent actions and continued disrespect for the Constitution are forcing us down the road to impeachment," Pocan said in the statement.
Pocan's shift on the issue is notable because he consistently has said impeachment should not be a first resort in providing congressional oversight of the White House. While acknowledging all options were available, Pocan previously said Congress could opt for investigative hearings instead of immediately resorting to impeachment.
Now, Pocan's new stance puts him at odds with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who reportedly is rejecting calls by some Democratic lawmakers to move ahead with impeachment.
Trump has vowed to stonewall all subpoenas by Democrats who control the House. He has fought congressional attempts to obtain the full Mueller report, his personal financial records, and testimony from his former White House counsel, Donald McGahn.
"Stonewalling Congress on witnesses and the unredacted Mueller report only enhances the President’s appearance of guilt, and as a result, he has pushed Congress to a point where we must start an impeachment inquiry," Pocan said.
The House Judiciary Committee recently held Trump's U.S. Attorney General, William Barr, in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over an unredacted version of Mueller’s report. It examined whether the Trump presidential campaign participated in Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, and whether Trump obstructed justice in efforts to investigate it.
Pocan, who represents the Madison area, becomes the second member of Wisconsin's congressional delegation to float removing the president from office. U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, early in the president's term began calling for Congress to come together to consider impeachment proceedings.