Democratic leaders stepped up their criticism of President Trump this week, with the top-ranking black House lawmaker calling him and his family “the greatest threats to democracy of my lifetime” — but still said impeachment isn’t their priority.
Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the House majority whip, compared the political climate Mr. Trump has fostered to that of Germany during the rise of Adolf Hitler, who he said “went about the business of discrediting institutions to the point that people bought into” it.
“Nobody would have believed it now. But swastikas hung in churches throughout Germany. We had better be very careful,” Mr. Clyburn said.
But Mr. Clyburn said it’s still too early to talk impeachment, and it’ll be up to Democratic committee chairmen to make the case.
“If the committees do their work properly they will be able to bring the public along with them,” he told NBC on Tuesday night. “They will be able to set the tone for impeachment if that is deserved.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, again defended her stance that impeachment talk is a distraction.
“You’re wasting your time, unless the evidence is so conclusive that the Republicans will understand,” Mrs. Pelosi told USA Today. “Otherwise, it’s a gift to the president. We take our eye off the ball.”
Yet Mr. Clyburn’s comments signaled a continued worry about Mr. Trump among Democrats, and an eagerness to confront him.
“We are asking for dire consequences,” he said. “I think it’s time for the Congress — House and Senate — to grow spines, and do what is necessary to protect this democracy. This man and his family are the greatest threats to democracy of my lifetime.”
His Hitler comparison drew a rebuke from the Republican Jewish Coalition, which called it “outrageous.”
“Frankly, we are tired of Rep. Clyburn appropriating the horrors of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust any time it suits him,” said RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks.
Beyond the rhetorical warfare, the Democratic chairmen Mr. Clyburn said need to make the case for impeachment are still working on it — but complained they’re not getting cooperation from the White House.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, rebuked the administration in a blistering op-ed for The Washington Post, saying it hasn’t provided a single page of documents to the committee yet.
“I have sent 12 letters to the White House on a half-dozen topics — some routine and some relating to our core national security interests. In response, the White House has refused to hand over any documents or produce any witnesses for interviews,” he wrote.
His committee is launching a gamut of investigations into various aspects of the president’s administration and personal business, including a probe into whether any laws were violated in granting Jared Kushner’s security clearance.
Mr. Cummings said that looking into the how the president’s son-in-law, one of his most senior advisers on immigration and foreign affairs, was given top-secret clearance is one of his top priorities.
The White House also apparently missed the deadline to turn over documents to the House Judiciary Committee this week.
Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler had sent more than 80 requests to the administration, the president’s family and others within the president’s orbit, seeking documents stemming from Trump business dealings and the 2016 campaign.
He said this week that some answers have come back.
“It is my hope that we will receive cooperation from the remainder of the list, and will be working to find an appropriate accommodation with any individual who may be reluctant to cooperate with our investigation,” he said.
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