Donald Trump's Impeachment Begins or Ends With Mueller Report, MSNBC Host Says: Do Democrats 'Have the Guts to Act on it?'

MSNBC's Hardball host, Chris Matthews, said Thursday's release of the Mueller report is make or break for those Democrats pushing to impeach President Donald Trump and asked if the party has the "guts" and "moral courage" to do so if the worst is revealed.

Attorney General William Barr is releasing a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's 400-page final report from the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. Congress will have the document at around 11 a.m.

So far, Barr has released only a controversial four-page summary of the Mueller report's findings, angering Democrats who want to see it in full to draw their own conclusions from what the special counsel's office discovered during the wide-ranging two-year investigation.

"Twenty-four hours from now, we will see the beginning of an impeachment drive against President Trump or the end of it. In all of its 400 pages, the Mueller report will either make the case for the president's removal from office or fail to make such a case," Matthews said during his Wednesday night show.

"If Mueller makes the case for impeachment, the next all-important question is whether Democrats of this country have the guts to act on it. If the report shows the president's pitiful judgment in accepting the aid of Russian allies in his campaign for president, and if he obstructed justice in defending such judgment, will the Democrats have the political and moral courage to begin the procedure the United States Constitution lays out?"

Matthews said Democrats did not have the option to do otherwise, because presidential immunity from criminal prosecution means Congress must seek justice by enforcing the law.

"If the verdict of the Mueller report comes in guilty, the Democrats need to rise up and do their duty. To do less is to show Trump and the country their bluff has been called. Two years of promising to act cannot end with only a resentful cringe," he said.

Donald Trump impeachment Mueller report
President Donald Trump speaks during an Opportunity Zone conference with state, local, tribal and community leaders on April 17. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

According to Barr's summary, Mueller laid out the investigation's findings on obstruction of justice but neither concluded the president committed a crime nor exonerated him. Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein then decided the evidence was insufficient to prosecute Trump for obstructing justice.

Earlier in April, Representative Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, suggested in an op-ed for The New York Times that Trump could be impeached based on Mueller's report.

"When the full scope of the president's misconduct has been revealed, when his lies are debunked and his abuses have been laid bare, I believe that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle will draft legislation to curb the worst of his offenses," Nadler wrote.

Nadler went on: "We have every reason to suspect that the unedited obstruction section of the Mueller report resembles the report that Congress received from the Watergate grand jury in 1974. That evidence showed that President Richard Nixon had attempted to obstruct justice. It did not recommend that the president should be prosecuted. It did not say the president should be impeached. It simply stated the evidence so that Congress could do its job."

Among the Democrats to call for the impeachment of Trump are California Representative Maxine Waters, who also chairs the House Financial Services Committee; Texas Representative Al Green; and Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib.