House Majority Whip James Clyburn said Sunday he thinks the House will eventually impeach President Trump, though he cautioned that Democrats must win over the public before taking the dramatic step.
The South Carolina Democrat said his caucus has “already begun” the process in a way, using the committee process to seek testimony and the courts to pry loose documents related to Mr. Trump’s finances.
“We’re trying to take our time and do this right,” he said. “We think that we have to bring the public along.”
“If the public ever feels that we are being political with this,” he added, “we will have done a tremendous harm to the country, to the Constitution and the people we are sworn to serve.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top aides have downplayed the I-word, saying Mr. Trump isn’t worth it or pointing to the step-by-step work of gathering new testimony and information on Mr. Trump’s business deals and tax returns.
Yet the third-ranking Democrat seemed to advance the ball Sunday when, pressed by CNN host Jake Tapper on whether Mr. Trump will face impeachment at some point, Mr. Clyburn said: “That’s exactly what I feel.”
Mr. Trump says impeachment is a “dirty” word and that it’s unthinkable, arguing he hasn’t done anything wrong.
Likewise Vice President Mike Pence, in an interview that aired Sunday, said he can’t understand why members of Congress would kick-start impeachment.
“I really wouldn’t. This president has been delivering for the American people,” Mr. Pence told Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo.
Mr. Pence said the administration cooperated with the special counsel, yet Mr. Mueller found no criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian meddlers.
Dozens of House Democrats, however, say Mr. Mueller all but rolled out the red carpet for impeachment in his report, citing episodes that they view as obstruction of justice. And Rep. Justin Amash, Michigan Republican, broke with members of his party by arguing the special counsel’s report indicates Mr. Trump committed impeachable offenses.
Mr. Clyburn said with momentum on his party’s side, there is no reason to “get out in front of the process.”
“Why don’t we just continue to go along? Right now, we are winning this issue,” Mr. Clyburn said. “Why should we go out and make missteps?”
Some impeachment skeptics have noted the GOP-led Senate is not going to vote for removal, anyway.
Sen. John Kennedy, Louisiana Republican, said conviction by the upper chamber, which a president is tried after the House impeaches him, would be a Sisyphean task and also unpopular, polling “up there with skim milk.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat, on Sunday acknowledged that impeachment is “destined for failure” due to Republican opposition, even if he thinks the president’s conduct meets the definition of “high crimes or misdemeanors.”
“We have to recognize the reality that one party, the Republican Party, has turned itself into a cult of the president’s personality and is not likely to act consistent with its constitutional obligations,” Mr. Schiff told ABC’s “This Week.”
Mr. Kennedy said Democrats are the ones who aren’t being serious right now. If they really think the president should be impeached, he said, they should “go to Amazon online, buy a spine and do it.”
“Go hard or go home,” he told the CBS program “Face the Nation.”
Several 2020 presidential contenders on the Democratic side have been willing to “go hard” on the matter.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, called for impeachment early on, saying she pored over the Mueller report after its April 18 release and came to the conclusion rather quickly.
Sen. Cory A. Booker, New Jersey Democrat, called for impeachment after Mr. Mueller publicly commented on his report last week, and Sen. Kamala D. Harris, California Democrat, cheered progressives by kicking off her home state’s Democratic convention with a rallying cry to oust Mr. Trump.
“We need to begin impeachment proceedings and we need a new commander-in-chief,” she said.
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