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Trump transition staffer explains why Mueller report convinced him to favor impeachment

Updated 11:21 AM ET, Thu April 25, 2019

Washington (CNN) - A former Trump transition team staffer is calling for impeachment of President Donald Trump after reading special counsel Robert Mueller's report, arguing there is "more than enough here to get that started."

"If you look at the report, it's clear it's a referral to Congress to begin impeachment proceedings. That was the only choice left to Mueller after the restrictions placed on him by DOJ policy," J.W. Verret told CNN's John Berman Thursday on "New Day."

"There's more than enough here to get that started," he added.

He told CNN it's up to the Democratic leadership to start the impeachment process, saying, "They need to have the guts to jump on this."

Asked what he's calling on Republican members to do, Verret replied, "As the hearings go forward, ask honest questions."

"Don't just do block and tackle for the President to try to prove your loyalty to him when he watches it on TV," Verret said.

Verret, who has worked on GOP presidential transition teams for the past 10 years, served as deputy director of economic policy on the Trump presidential transition team.

He wrote in The Atlantic on Tuesday he quit Trump's team in October 2016 over concerns about Trump's rhetoric on immigration and trade, his financial regulation policies, and the policy team's "hostility" to Russian sanctions.

He said that the Mueller report was the "tipping point" for him to transition from a "pragmatist about Trump to advocate for his impeachment."

Verret claimed on CNN on Thursday that he's received "a lot of feedback from my friends" on Capitol Hill and in the Trump administration "who say they're glad I'm doing what I'm doing." He had worked as counsel and chief economist to the House Financial Services Committee from 2013 to 2015.

"I don't know if they're ready to come out publicly about it yet. Some of them won't be able to," Verret said.

"Some in the administration are reaching out to you, saying they're glad you're speaking out about this?" Berman pushed.

"Yes, absolutely," Verret said, adding, "I'll just say most of them say, 'We're glad you're doing what you're doing, we're proud of you.' "

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leadership have tampered down the push from some members of the party, and 2020 candidates, to begin the impeachment process against Trump.

House Judiciary Chairman, Rep. Jerry Nadler, said Sunday on NBC News' "Meet the Press" he thinks some of the matters brought forth in the Mueller report, including "obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable." He, however, stopped short of calling for impeachment hearings, saying he first wants to hear Mueller's testimony in front of the committee.

The Mueller report released last week said the investigation into possible collusion found that members of the Trump campaign knew they would benefit from Russia's illegal actions to influence the election, but did not take criminal steps to help.

The report also details numerous cases in which Trump asked his aides to take actions that would may have obstructed the investigation, but stated they were unsuccessful because the aides refused his orders.

Mueller wrote he accepted the Justice Department precedent that a sitting president cannot be indicted, but rejected the Trump team's legal argument that a president cannot commit obstruction of justice, leaving the door open for Congress to continue to investigate Trump.


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