House Democratic leaders are rebuffing the growing push from their liberal members to move toward impeaching President Trump, warning that the nascent effort is premature and might undermine ongoing investigations into Trump’s ties to Russia.
“We have to find out what the facts are,” said Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff: McCarthy 'will do whatever Trump tells him' if GOP wins back House Jan. 6 panel to pursue criminal contempt referral for Bannon Bannon's subpoena snub sets up big decision for Biden DOJ MORE (Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which is conducting one of the multiple probes into Russia’s election meddling and possible ties to the Trump campaign.
“The hearings this week are going to be very important to understand what role the president played in the effort to derail any part of the Russia investigation, as has been alleged,” he added, referring to a pair of Senate Intelligence Committee hearings happening this week. “But I don’t want to leap to any conclusions about what we’ll ultimately find or what the consequences should be.
“We’re still very early in the investigative process.”
Rep. Linda Sánchez (Calif.), vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said Schiff’s view reflects the “overwhelming sentiment” among the Democrats.
“A majority of the Caucus is of the belief that we ought to allow the investigation to continue to its logical conclusion before making any determination,” she told reporters in the Capitol.
The comments come just hours before Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenIlhan Omar to Biden: 'Deliver on your promise to cancel student debt' Deportations of Haitians spark concerns over environmental refugees The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Gears begin to shift in Congress on stalled Biden agenda MORE (D-Texas) is set to announce that he’s drafting articles of impeachment related to Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Comey was leading the administration’s investigation into the Russia affair and had reportedly rebuffed entreaties by the president to drop elements of the probe — a refusal that led to his firing. Comey is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intel Committee on Thursday.
Green contends the Comey firing represents an impeachment-worthy case of obstruction of justice.
“Obstruction of justice by the President is the problem,” he said Tuesday night in a statement. “Impeachment by Congress is the solution.”
It’s unclear if other Democrats will support Green’s effort. Green declined to comment Wednesday morning, and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), another vocal supporter of working to impeach Trump, also deflected questions.
“I have not even thought about it,” Waters told The Hill.
Green’s impeachment articles, marking the first step in the official process of removing a sitting president, have almost no chance of moving through a House chamber controlled by Republicans allied with Trump. But the maneuver is sure to energize the Democrats’ liberal base, where the appetite for impeachment has grown with each new revelation in the Russia probe.
Democratic leaders, however, are concerned that the aggressive impeachment push might politicize the Russia-Trump investigations to an extent that Republicans will abandon the process altogether. They suspect that revelations unearthed by the ongoing investigations will be damning enough, without an aggressive push for impeachment.
Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee, called Green’s impeachment effort “premature,” arguing that his constituents want Democrats to fight for bread-and-butter economic issues in lieu of an impeachment effort that has no legs.
“They don’t see calls for an impeachment that’s not going to happen anytime soon to be in the service of making their lives better,” he said.
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), former ranking member of the House Intel Committee, delivered a similar message.
“In order to take the politics out of it — for the benefit of the country — we need to make sure we get the facts and the elements of what we have to prove,” he said. “And we’re not there yet.”