Reid backs Trump impeachment inquiry

Reid backs Trump impeachment inquiry

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason Reid2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again Panel: How Biden's gaffes could cost him against Trump MORE (D-Nev.) said in an interview published Monday that the House should open an impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? 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."

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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) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: 'I'd like to know' if Mueller read his own report 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 PelosiAre Democrats turning Trump-like? Pelosi hits Trump, Netanyahu for 'weakness' amid tensions over Omar and Tlaib In Hong Kong, the need for peaceful persistence 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 TapperFormer acting solicitor general: 'Literally unfathomable' that Trump would retweet conspiracy theory about Epstein death Consoler in Chief like Biden is the perfect antidote to a Divider in Chief like Trump Democrats blast Trump's Epstein conspiracy theory retweet as Conway defends the president 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.