Senate Dems put brakes on Trump impeachment talk

Senate Dems put brakes on Trump impeachment talk
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Senate Democrats are putting the brakes on impeachment chatter in the House, cautioning that lawmakers need to do more work before even thinking about moving forward on the issue.

A number of steps should be taken before there can be a serious discussion about impeaching President TrumpDonald TrumpMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine Trump testing czar warns lockdowns may be on table if people don't get vaccinated Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' MORE, including hearing testimony from 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, say several Senate Democrats.

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They also want the House to review the unredacted version of his report and its underlying documentation.

“We ought to get the full report unredacted, get the underlying documentation, have Mueller come testify, and then we can make decisions on where to go,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerAn August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Schumer's moment to transform transit and deepen democracy MORE (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday.

“We need to see the whole truth. Then we’ll make decisions on impeachment,” he added.

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCalifornia Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election Pelosi disputes Biden's power to forgive student loans Warren hits the airwaves for Newsom ahead of recall election MORE (D-Mass.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - CDC equates Delta to chickenpox in contagiousness Harris's bad polls trigger Democratic worries Why in the world are White House reporters being told to mask up again? MORE (D-Calif.), who are both running for president, have come out in favor of starting impeachment proceedings, but they’re alone among Senate Democrats so far.

Even Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), one of Trump’s most outspoken critics, conceded Wednesday that “we need to present the case to the American people.”

“We need to present the evidence here before a decision is made on whether impeachment is pursued,” he said. “Very few Americans are going to read the Mueller report.”

Senate Democrats say there’s not enough public support to push ahead with impeachment without the danger of it backfiring — just as they say it did for Republicans in 1998 when they impeached then-President Clinton.

One senior Democrat, who requested anonymity to speak freely about the impeachment calls, noted that Democrats picked up seats in the House after Republicans impeached Clinton.

The lawmaker added that it would be close to impossible to muster the 20 Republican votes needed to reach 67 votes to convict Trump in the Senate on any House-passed articles of impeachment — an argument that has also repeatedly been underlined by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released | Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Photos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris MORE (D-Calif.), who has sounded a cautious note on impeachment. 

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinNearly 140 Democrats urge EPA to 'promptly' allow California to set its own vehicle pollution standards Biden signs bill to bolster crime victims fund Stripping opportunity from DC's children MORE (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, noted that Democrats on her panel have asked for Mueller to appear before them. She said this would be an important test of the Trump administration.

“The Mueller report — I read a lot of reports, I really do — it was a tough read to read every line of those two volumes,” she said. “I think we need to finish collecting and looking at that report. And I think it’s vital that Mueller come before [us.]”

Democrats in tough reelection races next year are trying to tamp down talk of impeachment, which would rev up the conservative base and likely turn off swing voters.

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Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) says that while some of the president’s conduct as described in the Mueller report was “borderline appalling,” he does not favor impeachment.

“I’m not for that,” he said. “There needs to be some oversight, and we’ll see how that goes.”

He says the focus should be on strengthening U.S. voting systems and safeguarding future elections instead of  on Trump’s “personal issues.”

Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinInmates grapple with uncertainty over Biden prison plan Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Biden backs effort to include immigration in budget package MORE (Ill.) on Monday said it’s “too early” to begin impeachment proceedings and urged House lawmakers instead to “gather information, evidence, testimony.”

Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerHuman rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines Juan Williams: Biden's child tax credit is a game-changer MORE (D-N.J.), who is also running for president, has broken with Warren and Harris by joining other Democratic lawmakers who say there needs to be more investigation before floating the prospect of impeachment.

“I think right now we should continue this investigation. I think Mueller should come before and testify,” he said Tuesday when asked about impeachment. “I don’t think we should be having that conversation. I think we should still pursue the facts.”

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Democrats ramp up pressure for infrastructure deal amid time crunch Democrats brace for slog on Biden's spending plan MORE (D-Conn.) said colleagues can’t make an informed decision on impeachment without also seeing the information redacted from the Mueller report.

“I have no idea what’s in the redacted portions nor do I know what the underlying material is, so I’m not going to come to a conclusion,” he said.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll published last week found that only 37 percent of respondents said Congress should begin impeachment proceedings, while 56 percent voiced opposition.

There’s some concern among Senate Democrats that pursuing impeachment proceedings could paralyze congressional action on other issues.

Schumer noted to reporters earlier in the day that talk of the Mueller report and impeachment didn’t come up at a White House meeting between Trump and Democratic leaders.

Trump has warned that Democrats should not expect bipartisan dealmaking if they investigate him aggressively, declaring at his State of the Union address, “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.”

House Democrats, however, insist they can legislate and investigate at the same time.

“Washington is notorious for being able to compartmentalize,” said Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyHouse bill targets US passport backlog Democrats weigh next steps on Jan. 6 probe Tlaib, Democrats slam GOP calls for border oversight to fight opioid crisis MORE (D-Va.). “I’ve gotten bills passed into law with the most unlikely of allies. Because though we may disagree on 90 percent of everything over here, this 10 percent we agree on, and we are willing to work together.”

Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkSelect committee member thanks officers who responded Jan. 6: 'You were our last line of defense' Pelosi signals no further action against Omar Progressives rally behind Omar while accusing her critics of bias MORE (Mass.), vice chairwoman of the House Democratic Caucus, delivered a similar message, saying Democrats have “been working on two tracks since we took the majority.”

Whether the investigations undermine the infrastructure talks, she said, “is going to be 100 percent up to the president.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sets new vaccine mandate as COVID-19 cases surge Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Trump takes two punches from GOP MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday called on Democrats to drop impeachment talk and move on to other issues.

“Having just gotten back after a couple of weeks at home, I thought it interesting that I didn’t get a single question about the Mueller report. Most Americans think it’s over, time to move on,” he said.

Jordain Carney and Mike Lillis contributed.