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 TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE fires special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout 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 HarrisSenators push foreign media to disclose if they are registered as foreign agents Warnock raises almost M in Georgia Senate race in second quarter Liberal veterans group urges Biden to name Duckworth VP 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 WarrenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden chips away at Trump's fundraising advantage Warnock raises almost M in Georgia Senate race in second quarter The Hill's Morning Report - Trump lays low as approval hits 18-month low 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 GillibrandDemocratic lawmakers call for expanding, enshrining LGBTQ rights The Hill's 12:30 Report: Fauci 'aspirationally hopeful' of a vaccine by winter The Hill's Morning Report - Officials crack down as COVID-19 cases soar 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 SandersBernie SandersOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Watchdog accuses Commerce of holding up 'Sharpiegate' report | Climate change erases millennia of cooling: study | Senate nixes proposal limiting Energy Department's control on nuclear agency budget Sanders calls for social distancing, masks and disinfection on planes as flights operate at full capacity Nina Turner addresses Biden's search for a running mate MORE (I-Vt.), 76; Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Rodney Davis says most important thing White House can do on COVID-19 is give consistent messaging; US new cases surpass 50k for first time The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Stagwell President Mark Penn says Trump is losing on fighting the virus; Fauci says U.S. 'going in the wrong direction' in fight against virus Hillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats MORE (D-Minn.), 57; and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSenators push foreign media to disclose if they are registered as foreign agents Joe Biden must release the results of his cognitive tests — voters need to know GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday 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 MurphyConnecticut senators call for Subway to ban open carry of firearms Democrats optimistic about chances of winning Senate Gridlock mires chances of police reform deal 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. GreenTrump administration ending support for 7 Texas testing sites as coronavirus cases spike The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Miami mayor worries about suicide and domestic violence rise; Trump-governor debate intensifies Overnight Energy: Iconic national parks close over coronavirus concerns | New EPA order limits telework post-pandemic | Lawmakers urge help for oil and gas workers 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 StiversNational Retail Federation hosts virtual 'store tours' for lawmakers amid coronavirus Stronger patent rights would help promote US technological leadership Republicans to introduce House version of Scott police reform bill 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.