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 John TrumpWHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Trump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage MORE, including hearing testimony from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox News legal analyst says Trump call with Ukraine leader could be 'more serious' than what Mueller 'dragged up' Lewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network 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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump defends 'crime buster' Giuliani amid reported probe Louisiana voters head to the polls in governor's race as Trump urges GOP support Trump urges Louisiana voters to back GOP in governor's race then 'enjoy the game' 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 Ann WarrenSanders can gain ground by zeroing in on corruption Biden praises Buttigieg for criticizing GOP attacks: 'That's a good man' Warren enters crucial debate with big momentum MORE (D-Mass.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRepublicans wrestle with impeachment strategy Klobuchar takes shots at health and education plans supported by Sanders and Warren Kamala Harris to Trump Jr.: 'You wouldn't know a joke if one raised you' 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 PelosiBiden on impeachment: 'I'm the only reason' it's happening Democrats to offer resolution demanding Trump reverse Syria decision Rand Paul calls for probe of Democrats over Ukraine letter MORE (D-Calif.), who has sounded a cautious note on impeachment. 

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSchiff should consider using RICO framework to organize impeachment We need answers to questions mainstream media won't ask about Democrats The Hill's Morning Report - Trump grapples with Syria fallout 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 DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenators take fundraising efforts to Nats playoff games Overnight Health Care: Watchdog finds DEA allowed more opioids even as overdose deaths rose | Judge temporarily blocks Georgia abortion law | Three states report more vaping deaths | Dem proposes new fix for surprise medical bills During impeachment storm, senators cross aisle to lessen mass incarceration 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 Anthony BookerRepublicans wrestle with impeachment strategy O'Rourke campaign says path to victory hinges on top 5 finishes in Iowa, Nevada O'Rourke raises .5 million in third quarter 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 MurphyCongress set for showdown with Trump over Kurds Administration to give 'top secret' briefing on Syria amid pushback Senators call for Trump administration to testify on Syria 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 ConnollyA dozen House Democrats call on EU ambassador to resign amid Ukraine scandal House questions Volker as impeachment probe ramps up Democrats probing whether groups booked Trump hotel rooms to earn president's favor: report 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 ClarkMassachusetts Democrats call for 100 percent fentanyl screening of international mail from 'high-risk' nations Ten notable Democrats who do not favor impeachment The Hill's Morning Report - Trump searches for backstops amid recession worries 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 McConnellFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Republicans wrestle with impeachment strategy Mattis warns 'ISIS will resurge' without U.S. pressure on Syria 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.