Dems see Mueller firing as a red line on impeachment

Dems see Mueller firing as a red line on impeachment
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Democrats considered potential presidential candidates say if President TrumpDonald John TrumpIran claims it rejected Trump meeting requests 8 times ESPY host jokes Putin was as happy after Trump summit as Ovechkin winning Stanley Cup Russian ambassador: Trump made ‘verbal agreements’ with Putin MORE fires special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE it would be grounds for impeachment. 

The would-be candidates, who have been careful in their comments about the politically thorny issue, have now begun to qualify on what grounds they would push for impeachment. 

And they are signaling that terminating Mueller is a red line. 

At a town hall in Sacramento, Calif., last week, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisElection Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas Senate Democrats block resolution supporting ICE Dems look for candidate who will punch Trump ‘square in the face’ MORE (Calif.) said firing the special counsel would be an impeachable offense. 

“I can't see how it wouldn't be,” she told constituents. 

Harris, 53, repeated the sentiment again in Washington this week, saying firing Mueller would “certainly yield impeachment hearings.”

Across the country, when Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump pick to face grilling over family separations On The Money: Commerce to review uranium imports | Lawmakers urge Trump not to impose auto tariffs | White House wants steeper cuts to EPA funding | Google hit with massive B fine Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas MORE was asked at a town hall meeting last week in her home state of Massachusetts last week about impeaching Trump , she also turned to Mueller. 

“Right now, I believe it is absolutely critical that the special counsel, Mueller, be allowed to complete his investigation in full with no interference from anyone,” Warren, 68, said. 

On Friday, Warren took to Twitter to urge Democrats in the Senate to pass a bipartisan bill “to ensure that Mueller can complete a full, independent investigation.” 

“Let’s send a loud, clear message that no one is above the law — not even the President of the United States,” she wrote.

An aide to Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandElection Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas Senate Democrats block resolution supporting ICE House backs resolution expressing support for ICE MORE (D-N.Y.) also drew the line at Mueller’s firing. 

Gillibrand, 51, believes that Mueller “needs to be allowed to do his job without interference from the White House,” the aide said, adding that she backs the bipartisan legislation meant to offer some protection for the special counsel.

“When the investigation is complete, Congress will need to do its job based on the facts,” the aide said. 

Offices to a few possible Democratic contenders in 2020, including Sens. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersElection Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas House Dems launching Medicare for All Caucus Let's remove the legal shield from hackers who rob us of our civil rights MORE (I-Vt.), 76; Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHillicon Valley: EU hits Google with record B fine | Trump tries to clarify Russia remarks | Sinclair changing deal to win over FCC | Election security bill gets traction | Robocall firm exposed voter data Election security bill picks up new support in Senate Senate must approve Justice Served Act to achieve full potential of DNA evidence MORE (D-Minn.), 57; and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerHouse backs resolution expressing support for ICE Dems to propose legislation to prevent ICE from shackling pregnant women Senate adds members to pro-NATO group MORE (D-N.J.), 48, did not respond to a request for comment. 

In December Sanders, who ran as a Democrat during the 2016 presidential election, urged Democrats not to “jump the gun” when it comes to impeachment. Sanders said Democrats should wait for the Mueller investigation to be completed before they decide how to move forward on impeachment. 

“I think there is a process that has to be followed,” Sanders said on NBC’s "Meet the Press." “I think Mr. Mueller is doing a very good job on this investigation. If Mueller brings forth the clear evidence that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, I think you have grounds for impeachment.”

An aide to Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySenate Dems rip Trump after Putin news conference Dems launch pressure campaign over migrant families Sunday shows preview: Trump readies for meeting with Putin MORE (D-Conn.), 44, said he had not weighed in on the matter.

The remarks from Harris, Warren and Gillibrand could put pressure on Democratic leaders in Congress on the issue of impeachment. 

Democratic leaders have been careful to not talk up the issue, worrying it could backfire ahead of midterm elections in which the party is growing more and more confident that it could win the House majority.

Doing so would immediately make impeachment more possible, as Democrats would only need a majority vote in the House. In the Senate, a two-thirds vote is necessary for conviction, which would be a higher bar. 

Republicans are telling voters that Democrats are getting ready to impeach Trump, partly to energize the GOP base ahead of the election. They see the argument as an effective one to bring voters to the polls. 

“If Democrats gain control of the House in November, I have no doubt they will begin impeachment proceedings,” said Republican strategist Alice Stewart. “They want nothing more than to see President Trump removed from office.” 

But Stewart said Democrats are clearly walking a fine line as to not appear overtly political. 

“The problem with telegraphing it early is that it shows swing voters that Democrats can’t be trusted to govern or rise about the dysfunction,” she said.

In December, about four dozen Democrats voted to take up a resolution by Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenTom Steyer compares movement to impeach Trump to civil rights movement Juan Williams: Midterms will be referendum on Trump Dem lawmaker: We will impeach Trump if we retake the House MORE (D-Texas) to impeach Trump but it was shot down by a 364-58 vote. 

Tom Steyer, the Democratic activist and billionaire, has spent approximately $40 million on ads pushing for impeachment. 

Democratic leaders, however, have consistently resisted the efforts.

“It doesn’t do us any favors to be out there pushing for impeachment,” said one Democratic strategist. “It’s more helpful for the Mueller investigation to play out and then we can take it from there based on the findings.” 

In a tweet earlier this week, David Axelrod, who served as chief strategist to former President Obama, echoed a similar sentiment. “Dems should NOT commit to impeachment unless & until there’s a demonstrable case for one. It is not just a matter of politics. It’s a matter of principle. If we normalize impeachment as a political tool, it will be another hammer blow to our Democracy.” 

In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper on Thursday night, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Democrats in general should not run on the idea of impeaching Trump. 

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“It would not be the right thing to do,” Nadler said. 

Stewart said she attended the small National Republican Congressional Committee dinner where Chairman Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversTop GOP campaign official rebuts Trump on Russia threat GOP campaign arm withdraws support from NJ House candidate who made racist statements Progressives’ wins highlight divide in Democratic Party MORE (R-Ohio) addressed the threat of impeachment against Trump, as reported this week by The New York Times. 

“I agree with his statement that this issue fires up the party base and is beneficial for us to remind voters of this through the midterms,” she said.