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Fourth-ranking House Democrat backs Trump impeachment inquiry

By Darryl Coote
Fourth-ranking House Democrat backs Trump impeachment inquiry
Assistant House Speaker Ben Ray Lujan has voiced his support for an impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump. Photo by Ray Stubblebine/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Assistant House speaker Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., announced his support for an impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump, saying his presidency is creating "grave national concerns."

"I support moving forward with an impeachment inquiry, which will continue to uncover the facts for the American people and hold this president accountable," he said in a statement Monday. "This is not a position I've reached lightly."

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With his support, Lujan -- the fourth-ranking House Democrat -- becomes the highest-ranking Democrat to back an impeachment inquiry, a mantle he took from Rep. Katherine Clark, the No. six-ranked Democrat, who offered her support for the investigation in late July. He is also the 127th Democrat to support the proceedings, according to a Politico tally.

Lujan said Trump's inaction to safeguard U.S. democracy despite proof that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election and warnings it was committing similar attacks to meddle in the upcoming election posed "grave national security concerns."

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"When faced with this evidence from his own government, President Trump has failed to act," he said. "Not only has he ignored the warnings that our democracy is being targeted but he has also actively encouraged Russian interference."

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He said his support for impeachment was based on former special counsel Robert Mueller's report, released in April and based on a nearly 2-year investigation, that found Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election in a "sweeping and systematic fashion" while detailing 10 instances Trump attempted to obstruct justice.

"What is evident is that President Trump is abdicating his responsibility to defend our nation from Russian attacks and is putting his own personal and political interests ahead of the American people," Lujan said.

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Lujan's endorsement comes despite pushback from his close associate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has said the Democrats first need a strong case.

"The stronger our case is, the worse the Senate will look for just letting the president off the hook," she said following Mueller's hearing before the House Judiciary Committee in July.

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