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Dem Rep. Dingell: 'I don't want to play into Russia's hands' with 'partisan impeachment'

Dem Rep. Dingell: 'I don't want to play into Russia's hands' with 'partisan impeachment'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellLawmakers offer gun control bill to end 'boyfriend loophole' Michigan Democrat Dingell on violent rhetoric: 'I've had men in front of my house with assault weapons' Dingell 'very concerned' about lowering threshold for stimulus MORE (D-Mich.) dismissed the prospect of impeaching President TrumpDonald TrumpSouth Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Ex-Trump aide Pierson won't run for Dallas-area House seat House Oversight panel reissues subpoena for Trump's accounting firm MORE on Friday, arguing that moving toward his ouster would benefit Moscow’s efforts to divide the nation. 

“There is a theme that is throughout this report about how Russia is trying to divide this country. I don’t want to play into Russia’s hands and divide this country more with a partisan impeachment. So I am totally schizophrenic right now about all of the different things that are in there,” Dingell said on MSNBC’s "MTP Daily," referring to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE’s report.

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“I think we have to do this in a bipartisan way. I think Republicans and Democrats have a responsibility,” she added.

The comments come amid a debate within the Democratic Party over how to respond to Mueller’s April report, in which he was unable to establish that members of Trump's campaign conspired with Russia in its 2016 election meddling.

Mueller declined to make a prosecutorial judgement with regard to whether the president obstructed subsequent probes and said this week in his first public remarks since being appointed special counsel two years ago that he was unable to consider whether Trump committed a crime based on current Justice Department guidelines.

Dozens of Democrats this week joined in calling for the House to begin an impeachment inquiry after Mueller said during a press briefing that he could not exonerate Trump of any wrongdoing.

“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller told reporters Wednesday, adding that “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden coronavirus relief bill tests narrow Democratic majority Some Republicans say proxy voting gives advantage to Democrats Gun violence prevention groups optimistic background check legislation can pass this Congress MORE (D-Calif.) and her top lieutenants in House leadership have thus far been able to beat back rank-and-file calls for impeachment from reaching a fever pitch, worrying such a move could jeopardize vulnerable House Democrats and consolidate Trump’s base. Democratic leaders have so far opted to double down on existing investigations into Trump and his administration.

However, Democrats have grown increasingly frustrated with White House efforts to rebuke a slew of subpoenas for testimony and documents from current and former administration officials, with some arguing the force of impeachment proceedings may be the only way oversight committees can obtain the information they need. 

“He’s putting kerosene on a fire. He’s refusing to send people up to the hill. At some point, people are going to be driven to have no choice,” Dingell said.