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 ChabotParties unite to move Myanmar sanctions bill GOP hopes dim on reclaiming House Lawmakers explore easing rules on small cannabis businesses 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 Trump2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate Senate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again 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 CollinsBipartisan Judiciary members request probe into gender discrimination allegations at FBI academy Top Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Mueller to testify publicly on July 17 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 PelosiSenate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House Pelosi: Congress will receive election security briefing in July Trump says he spoke to Pelosi, McConnell on border package MORE (D-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDemocrats already jockeying for House leadership posts House Democratic leaders work to secure votes for border bill Hoyer: House won't move forward on congressional pay bump 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 GrahamBooker calls for hearings on reports of ICE using solitary confinement GOP lays debate trap for 2020 Democrats Overnight Defense: Trump says he doesn't need exit strategy with Iran | McConnell open to vote on Iran war authorization | Senate panel advances bill to restrict emergency arms sales 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 NadlerNadler apologized after repeatedly calling Hope Hicks 'Ms. Lewandowski' at hearing Hope Hicks: Trump campaign felt 'relief' after WikiLeaks released damaging info about Hillary Clinton House hearing marks historic moment for slavery reparations debate 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 RoyceK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Former GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop Lawmakers propose banning shark fin trade MORE’s (R-Calif.) retirement at the end of this Congress.

Chabot is critical of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump 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.”