We're Running Out of Time—Congress Must Launch Impeachment Inquiry Now | Opinion

As the leader of Stand Up America, one of the largest progressive organizations resisting Donald Trump's agenda and his attacks on our democracy, people have long assumed that I support impeachment. But while I've spent the past two years fighting his corruption alongside our group's two million community members, I haven't called for impeachment hearings up until now.

When some progressives demanded impeachment after Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey, I thought we should let Special Counsel Mueller do his job first.

When Mueller's redacted report was released detailing Trump's criminal conduct, I believed Democrats in Congress should hold Watergate-style hearings to air the evidence, subpoena key witnesses, and obtain Mueller's full report before considering impeachment.

I'm now convinced that it's time to stop waiting.

While Trump claims the Mueller report "completely exonerated" him, he's spent the past two months panicking and hiding the truth from the American people by ignoring subpoenas, blocking witnesses from testifying, and concealing the unredacted report. Because of his relentless obstruction, an impeachment inquiry is now the only viable option to present the facts and hold Trump accountable.

Impeachment hearings would enable Congress to lay out the evidence of Trump's criminal wrongdoing in nationally televised hearings, and they would put Congress in a stronger position to enforce subpoenas and demand evidence and testimony from key witnesses.

That's why Stand Up America is organizing our community of over two million progressives, in every congressional district across the country, to demand our representatives support an immediate impeachment inquiry.

There can only be one reason why Trump is trying so hard to cover up the truth: he betrayed the American people by breaking the law.

After nearly two years of investigating, Mueller concluded that Trump welcomed an attack on our democracy from a hostile foreign nation to help him win. Mueller's report illuminates the Trump campaign's numerous attempts to coordinate with Russia, including sharing campaign polling and more than 140 contacts with Russian nationals, Wikileaks, and their intermediaries.

The Mueller report details how Trump repeatedly broke the law in his attempts to obstruct justice and conceal his campaign's Kremlin ties. He found over 10 episodes of obstruction, including witness tampering, dangling pardons to discourage cooperation with prosecutors, and ordering the White House counsel to fire the special counsel—and then later to lie about that order.

After reviewing the evidence, more than 1,000 former federal prosecutors determined that Trump would have been charged with criminal obstruction if it were not for a Department of Justice policy protecting a sitting president from indictment. In other words, if any other American obstructed justice as blatantly as Trump, they'd be heading to jail.

For better or worse, Mueller concluded that the responsibility to hold a corrupt president accountable lies with Congress—and it's now time for them to act.

To be sure, an impeachment inquiry doesn't come without risks. Beltway pundits relish predicting how impeachment might impact the 2020 election and energize Trump's base. I've wrestled with those concerns myself.

But the truth is that no one knows the future political repercussions of moving forward with impeachment.

What we do know is that the president of the United States broke the law—repeatedly.

We know that our Constitution has a system of checks and balances precisely for this moment.

We know that by doing nothing, Congress would be letting Trump get away with criminal conduct.

Inaction carries enormous risks—both politically and for our democracy. It would embolden Trump and set a dangerous precedent for future presidents. And inaction would dampen the enthusiasm of the voters, volunteers, and donors who helped elect this Democratic Congress to stand up for our Constitution and the rule of law.

While pundits are quick to predict that impeachment will fire up Trump's supporters, they ignore the effect that doing nothing would have on the turnout of the progressive base.

Progressives are fired up about holding Trump accountable—and they want action on impeachment. In the last month alone, Stand Up America community members rallied across the country and made over 60,000 constituent calls to urge lawmakers to start an impeachment inquiry.

While the Senate is unlikely to remove Trump from office, that doesn't get our elected officials off the hook from doing their jobs—and it doesn't make the historical precedent of this moment any less important.

It's time for every member of Congress to go on the record about whether they believe Trump's criminal conduct is acceptable. It's time for them to decide if they will vigorously defend our democracy and the rule of law -- or let the criminal in the White House bully them into silence. History will judge what they do in this moment.

Sean Eldridge is the founder and president of Stand Up America, a progressive advocacy organization with over two million community members nationwide who are resisting Donald Trump's agenda.

The views expressed in this article are the writers' own.