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 Committee abruptly postpones vote on articles of impeachment Parties clash as impeachment articles move closer to House vote SECURE it — for small businesses and their workers 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 TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed 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.

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“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 CollinsImpeachment obliterates tinges of comity in House Overnight Defense: Mattis downplays Afghanistan papers | 'We probably weren't that good at' nation building | Judiciary panel approves two impeachment articles | Stage set for House vote next week Trump invites Judiciary Republicans to gathering after they missed White House party during impeachment markup 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 PelosiTrump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Sherrod Brown backs new North American trade deal: 'This will be the first trade agreement I've ever voted for' Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Turf war derails push on surprise medical bills | Bill would tax e-cigarettes to pay for anti-vaping campaign | .5M ad blitz backs vulnerable Dems on drug prices MORE (D-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerMedia organization fights Trump administration over Ukraine documents FOIA On The Money: Trump, China announce 'Phase One' trade deal | Supreme Court takes up fight over Trump financial records | House panel schedules hearing, vote on new NAFTA deal House panel to hold hearing, vote on Trump's new NAFTA proposal 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.

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“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 GrahamTrump: 'I wouldn't mind' a long Senate impeachment process Poll finds Graham with just 2-point lead on Democratic challenger Hill editor-in-chief calls IG report 'a game-changer' 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 NadlerJudiciary members battle over whether GOP treated fairly in impeachment hearings Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay House passes bill that would give legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers 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 MuellerJeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay Trump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts 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.”