Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.) argued Friday that President Donald Trump seeking legal recourse in U.S. courts amounts "in and of itself [to] obstruction of justice."
"We're not going to fall into their tactics of delay and trying to use the court system. That is, in and of itself, obstruction of justice and that's what the president does not seem to understand," she said.
Jayapal echoed the sentiments of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), who also raised the question of obstruction at a Thursday press conference. Jayapal said appealing to the judiciary to prevent testimony from administration figures would undermine Congress's ability to hold Trump accountable.
"We are not going to allow the president to use obstruction of justice and obstruction of Congress to stop us by saying ‘well, we need to call more witnesses,'" Jayapal said.
She alleged that Trump had incriminated himself with his own comments and that the "evidence is clear" that he obstructed justice regarding the investigation into his phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. Public testimony in the impeachment inquiry concluded Thursday, and it remains an open question where Democrats' impeachment effort will go from here.
Trump has used executive authority to keep some of his advisers and staff from speaking to Congress. Pelosi has said she is not waiting on a decision from the Supreme Court on whether Congress can compel them to testify.
"They keep taking it to court, and no, we're not going to wait till the courts decide," Pelosi said. "We cannot be at the mercy of the courts. The courts are very important in all of this. Those cases will continue."
She added that, in the case of an impeachment trial, the Senate could take into account court rulings.