U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz on Monday called for Congress to begin a formal impeachment process against President Donald Trump.

In a press release and tweet, the Hawaii Democrat accused the Republican president of abusing his constitutional power, saying that he has positioned himself as being above the law.

“The president is breaking statutory and constitutional law every day, and he is abusing his inherent power as president with regularity, enthusiasm, and most troublingly, impunity,” Schatz said.

“He and his legal team argue that a sitting president’s authorities are so vast that they literally transcend the law. They argue that the Congress has a remedy for this criminality and defiance — the impeachment process.”

Senator Brian Schatz takes questions during his town hall meeting.
Sen. Brian Schatz took questions during a Honolulu town hall meeting in May, where he spoke on the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump. On Monday the senator called for that process to begin. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Schatz continued: “If that is their view, so be it. On behalf of the people who elected us, we must formalize and accelerate the impeachment process so that Congress, by exercising its responsibility under Article 1 of the Constitution, can provide some measure of accountability.”

Schatz did not say what prompted his statement. But he has spent the last few days tweeting repeatedly about the whistleblower case that centers on a complaint against Trump on his communications with the leader of Ukraine.

The conversation, which occurred this summer, reportedly involved Trump’s request that Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, be investigated by the Ukraine government.

Screenshot of Schatz’s Twitter feed Monday. 

Critics of the president have called for a release of the phone call’s transcript, but Schatz said in a tweet earlier Monday that that is not necessary: “Hey we don’t need the transcript. The President said he did it.”

Trump did say Monday that Biden was a subject of the conversation. The son of Biden, the leading Democratic candidate for president, did business in the Ukraine, work that the president said is corrupt.

Schatz tweeted this statement out Sunday: “What is impeachment for, if not this? We simply have to conduct ourselves as a co-equal branch of government. It is time for total clarity on what we are up against. It is time to use the constitution as it was intended — to reign (sic) in an out of control President.”

Screenshot of Schatz’s Twitter feed Sunday. 

The U.S. House of Representatives has been investigating Trump on several fronts, including on the Mueller report that found no evidence Trump colluded directly with Russia to sway the 2016 presidential election but did state that Trump tried to obstruct the investigation.

The whistleblower case has added a new urgency to the discussion of impeachment.

Correction: Since May, Schatz’s Senate colleague from Hawaii, Democrat Mazie Hirono, has been highly critical of Trump and his policies. She said an impeachment inquiry should have been opened following the Mueller report. (An earlier version of this story said Hirono had stopped short of calls for impeachment.)

U.S. Rep. Ed Case has also been cautious to call for impeachment, wanting the House to continue its work examining Trump and his actions.

Hawaii’s other representative, Tulsi Gabbard, said impeachment would “tear our country apart.”

But Schatz suggests the country has already reached that point, and that the time to act has come.

“This isn’t just essential for now, but so that no future president of either party believes that it is possible, practicable, or wise to defy the law, Congress’ constitutional role, and the American people,” he said in his statement Monday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has so far opposed impeachment, which would begin in that chamber. She said the Republican-controlled Senate would almost certainly reject impeachment articles.

Pelosi said the best way to remove Trump is to defeat him for re-election in 2020.

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