Rep. Chabot puts impeachment at center of his case for Judiciary post

Rep. Chabot puts impeachment at center of his case for Judiciary post
© Greg Nash

Rep. Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotJudiciary approves new investigative powers with eyes on impeachment Republicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea Wave of GOP retirements threatens 2020 comeback MORE (Ohio) is making the case that he’s the best Republican to have at the top of the House Judiciary Committee in the next Congress because of his experience in President Clinton’s impeachment.

Chabot was one of 13 House managers during the Clinton impeaching proceedings, experience he thinks will be useful to Republicans next year if they are battling Democrats seeking to impeach President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's top adviser on Asia to serve as deputy national security adviser United Auto Workers strike against GM poised to head into eighth day Trump doubles down on call to investigate Biden after whistleblower complaint: 'That's the real story' MORE.

In an interview with The Hill, Chabot said he’s optimistic the GOP will retain its majority, but thinks his skills make him a good choice to lead Republicans on Judiciary regardless of which party controls the House.

“I think my background on this could be helpful, if it comes to that,” he said of Republicans losing the House.

“If we're still in the majority, which I believe and certainly hope we still are, it will still be helpful to the extent that the Democrats are going to continue pushed by their base on that issue.”

Chabot is the most senior member on the Judiciary Committee seeking the gavel, but faces competition from Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsHillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts Lawmakers say Zuckerberg has agreed to 'cooperate' with antitrust probe Collins seeks appointment to Isakson seat MORE (R-Ga.), a member of GOP leadership who currently serves as the vice chairman of the Republican Conference.

The Steering Committee is expected to make its decision on the matter after the midterm elections.

While House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRomney: Trump asking Ukraine to investigate political rival 'would be troubling in the extreme' Pelosi: Whistleblower complaint 'must be addressed immediately' Democrats must embrace Israel and denounce anti-Semitism in the party MORE (D-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDC statehood push faces long odds despite record support Democrat accuses GOP of opposing DC statehood because of 'race and partisanship' News outlets choose their darlings, ignore others' voices MORE (D-Md.) have discouraged Democrats from pushing for Trump’s impeachment ahead of the midterms, Chabot said he thinks they’ll be under enormous pressure to move forward if they retake the House.

“I think their base is demanding [impeachment],” he told The Hill. “And whether they fall in line or not, we'll see, but it's certainly a distinct possibility.”

As one of the House managers, Chabot, who practiced law for 18 years in the private sector, was tasked with essentially serving as a prosecutor making the case for Clinton's impeachment to the Senate. The Ohio Republican is one of just three Clinton impeachment managers still in Congress, along with Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPost peace talks, Afghan elections are the best way forward Trump walks tightrope on gun control Pompeo doubles down on blaming Iran for oil attacks: 'This was a state-on-state act of war' MORE (R-S.C.) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).

"If we're still in the majority, which I believe and certainly hope we still are, it will still be helpful to the extent that the Democrats are going to continue pushed by their base on that issue," he said. "I think when we went through the impeachment, I tend not to be a bomb thrower; I tend to be a bit more even-tempered."

Chabot said he has a positive working relationship with Rep. Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerLewandowski: House testimony shows I'd be 'a fighter' in the Senate Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Nadler's House committee holds a faux hearing in search of a false crime MORE (N.Y.), the ranking Democrat on Judiciary.

“Now, we're about as different on policy issues as you can get. He's as liberal as I am conservative, but we work together,” he said. “So I think that's helpful, I think it's also helpful having the benefit of having served under five chairmen of the Judiciary Committee.”

Chabot, who is now the chairman of the House Committee on Small Business and has served for 22 years on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees, cited his work on a Burma sanctions bill as an example of his ability to bring committees together to accomplish legislative goals. 

The Ohio Republican also floated the idea of seeking the Foreign Affairs gavel, given Chairman Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceMystery surrounds elusive sanctions on Russia Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp House panel advances bill to protect elections from foreign interference MORE’s (R-Calif.) retirement at the end of this Congress.

Chabot is critical of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerLewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation MORE’s investigative team, arguing some people on his investigative team are too partisan. But he said he’s able to “look at the facts with an open mind.”

“I've seen how that [impeachment] really divides a country, and unless absolutely necessary it's to be avoided in my opinion,” he said. “And at this point, I haven't seen any evidence that there was collusion between this administration and the Russians to take the last election. I'm reserving my judgment until the end and until all the evidence is in.”