By Mary Clare Jalonick and Lisa Mascaro

The Associated Press

More Democrats are calling — and more loudly — for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump after his latest defiance of Congress by blocking his former White House lawyer from testifying on Tuesday.

A growing number of rank-and-file House Democrats, incensed by former counsel Don McGahn’s empty chair in the Judiciary Committee hearing room, are confronting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and pushing her and other leaders to act. Their impatience is running up against the speaker’s preference for a more methodical approach, including already-­unfolding court battles.

Pelosi summoned some of them — still a small fraction of the House Democratic caucus — to a meeting of investigators Wednesday to assess strategy.

Some other Democratic leaders, while backing Pelosi, signaled that a march to impeachment may at some point become inevitable.

“We are confronting what might be the largest, broadest cover-up in American history,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said. If a House inquiry “leads to other avenues including impeachment,” the Maryland Democrat said, “so be it.”

One Republican congressman, Justin Amash of Michigan, has called for impeachment proceedings. He said Tuesday he thinks other GOP lawmakers should join him — but only after reading special counsel Robert Mueller’s report carefully.

Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy dismissed Amash as out of step with House Republicans and “out of step with America.” And Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said wryly of Amash’s position, “I don’t think it’s going to be a trend-setting move.”

As Democrats weigh their options, Trump is almost taunting them by testing the bounds of executive power in ways few other administrations have. The White House contends that even former employees like McGahn do not have to abide by subpoenas from Congress.

A short time later House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler issued subpoenas for more Trump administration officials — former White House communications director Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson, a former aide in the White House counsel’s office — for documents and testimony.

Trump’s former White House counsel is the most-­cited witness in Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation report, recounting the president’s attempts to interfere with the probe. And that makes his silence all the more infuriating for Democrats.

Nadler gaveled open Tuesday’s hearing with a stern warning that McGahn will be held in contempt for failing to appear.

“Our subpoenas are not optional,” Nadler said. “We will not allow the president to stop this investigation.”

Pelosi scheduled Wednesday’s meeting with lawmakers from the Judiciary and Oversight committees after some members confronted her during a meeting among top Democrats Monday evening.

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