House Democrat walks back remark favoring censure over impeachment

House Democrat walks back remark favoring censure over impeachment
© Greg Nash

Rep. Brenda LawrenceBrenda Lulenar LawrenceSanders looks to regain momentum in must-win Michigan Wheeler faces questions over Pruitt spending Democratic congresswomen wear white to Trump's address in honor of suffrage movement MORE (D-Mich.) on Tuesday walked back comments she made over the weekend suggesting that it may be better for Democrats to censure President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools MORE instead of impeaching him.

Lawrence said during a Sunday appearance on the "No BS News Hour" podcast that she preferred censuring Trump over impeaching him in the face of next year's elections — an apparent shift from her previous stance in support of the House impeachment inquiry.

"We are so close to an election. I will tell you, sitting here knowing how divided this country is, I don't see the value of taking him out of office. But I do see the value of putting down a marker saying his behavior is not acceptable," Lawrence said.

"I want him censured," Lawrence added. "I want it on the record that the House of Representatives did their job and they told this president and any president coming behind him that this is unacceptable behavior and, under our Constitution, we will not allow it."

But on Tuesday, Lawrence issued a statement clarifying that she still supports impeachment.

"I was an early supporter for impeachment in 2017. The House Intelligence Committee followed a very thorough process in holding hearings these past two weeks. The information they revealed confirmed that this president has abused the power of his office, therefore I continue to support impeachment," Lawrence said.

"However, I am very concerned about Senate Republicans and the fact that they would find this behavior by the president acceptable," Lawrence said.

Lawrence further suggested in the Sunday interview that censuring Trump could draw Republicans who have otherwise held the party line against impeachment.

"I'm going to have that discussion with the party and with the caucus. And I think I could get my Republican colleagues who know, who recognize that this is unacceptable," Lawrence said.

Lawrence first backed impeachment proceedings against Trump back in June following former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's report and the president's indication in an ABC News interview that he'd accept dirt from a foreign entity on a political opponent.

"That coupled with his recent admission during a network interview that he sees nothing wrong with accepting assistance from a foreign entity, leaves me no choice but to now request that this body proceed with the process of conducting an impeachment inquiry," Lawrence said at the time, according to the Detroit News.

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And in September, Lawrence expressed support for Democratic leaders announcing an impeachment inquiry into Trump's efforts to get the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFighting a virus with the wrong tools Trump bucks business on Defense Production Act Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — US coronavirus cases hit 100,000 | Trump signs T stimulus package | Trump employs defense powers to force GM to make ventilators | New concerns over virus testing MORE and his son, as well as a debunked conspiracy theory about Ukrainian election interference in 2016.

Lawrence's comments came as the House is approaching the next phase of its impeachment inquiry. Democrats are aiming for a floor vote on articles of impeachment before Christmas.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTexas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill Schiff: Remote voting would not compromise national security Connecticut man accused of threatening to kill Schiff MORE (D-Calif.) said Monday that his panel is preparing a report on its findings. Schiff said that the report is expected to be transmitted to the House Judiciary Committee shortly after Thanksgiving.

The House Judiciary Committee announced on Tuesday that it is holding its first hearing on Trump's dealings with Ukraine next week.

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — US coronavirus cases hit 100,000 | Trump signs T stimulus package | Trump employs defense powers to force GM to make ventilators | New concerns over virus testing Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike MORE (D-Calif.) previously dismissed the idea of censuring Trump in June, calling it an insufficient measure and "just a way out."  

"If you're going to go, you've got to go. If the goods are there, you must impeach. And censure is nice, but it is not commensurate with the violations of the Constitution — should we decide that's the way to go," Pelosi said during an event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. "That's my view."