Former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidHarry Reid calls on Democrats to plow forward on immigration Democrats brace for tough election year in Nevada The Memo: Biden's horizon is clouded by doubt MORE (D-Nev.) said in an interview published Monday that the House should open an impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald TrumpGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Super PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE, despite counseling against the move earlier.
"It’s not the right thing to do nothing," Reid told USA Today. "It’s not the right thing to jump into impeachment without doing an inquiry."
Any such inquiry, he said, should primarily focus on giving "the American people a view of what’s going on."
Reid addressed concerns that the process would allow Trump to claim he had been exonerated since impeachment proceedings would be doomed in the Republican-controlled Senate.
“That has been one of the big arguments against the impeachment,” Reid said. “Why make Trump a hero by saying ‘they couldn’t impeach me?’” However, that risk is “all the more reason why the inquiry is the right thing to do,” he said.
Polling indicates a majority of Americans oppose impeaching Trump, with the most recent poll in the wake of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's investigation showing 41 percent support. However, Reid said that further investigation could move the needle on the idea. “I think that that’s one reason an inquiry should go forward, to find out how the public reacts to this,” he told USA Today.
Reid said he would reach out on the subject to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSunday shows preview: CDC signs off on 'mix and match' vaccine boosters Buttigieg aims to use Tucker Carlson flap to spotlight paternity leave Judge to hear Trump's case against Jan. 6 committee in November MORE (D-Calif.), who has consistently opposed impeachment and with whom Reid regularly communicates.
An impeachment inquiry, in which the House would establish a panel to investigate potential “high crimes and misdemeanors” by Trump, would be distinct from impeachment proceedings and would not guarantee them. Reid, who retired in 2017, was a member of the Senate the last time the chamber conducted an impeachment trial after the House voted to impeach then-President Clinton.
Reid’s interview came as Democratic House leadership makes efforts to appear unified on the issue. Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.), the No. 3 Democrat in the House, suggested to CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperJon Stewart: It's a 'mistake' to focus all on Trump Buttigieg says delay in climate action will cost lives amid reports of Manchin roadblock Buttigieg says supply chain troubles could last into next year MORE on Sunday that Trump’s impeachment was inevitable but walked back his comments Monday after a meeting with leadership.
“I’m probably farther away from impeachment than anybody in our caucus,” Clyburn told reporters Monday night. “We will not get out in front of our committees. We’ll see what the committees come up with. I’ve said that forever.”
At least 55 House lawmakers have publicly voiced support for opening impeachment proceedings.