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 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, including hearing testimony from 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, 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 SchumerAppropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down Trump ahead of New Hampshire speech: Lewandowski would be 'fantastic' senator 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 WarrenAre Democrats turning Trump-like? Manufacturing shrinks, raising questions for Trump Volatile presidential polls spark new round of anxieties MORE (D-Mass.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisAre Democrats turning Trump-like? Volatile presidential polls spark new round of anxieties Conservative commentator rips Shapiro over criticism of people with multiple jobs 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 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 sounded a cautious note on impeachment. 

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinTrump administration urges Congress to reauthorize NSA surveillance program The Hill's Morning Report - More talk on guns; many questions on Epstein's death Juan Williams: We need a backlash against Big Tech 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 DurbinSenate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility House panel investigating decision to resume federal executions To combat domestic terrorism, Congress must equip law enforcement to fight rise in white supremacist attacks 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 BookerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape Steve King to Gillibrand: Odds of me resigning same as yours of winning presidential nomination We need a climate plan for agriculture 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 MurphyOvernight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces White House eyes September action plan for gun proposals Trump phoned Democratic senator to talk gun control 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 ConnollyHistory in the House: Congress weathers unprecedented week Democrat grills DHS chief over viral image of drowned migrant and child Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp 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 ClarkToni Morrison dies at 88 Former Virginia deputy AG: Trump's Twitter attacks a 'distraction' from 'substantive' critiques House Democrats inch toward majority support for impeachment 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 McConnellAre Democrats turning Trump-like? House Democrat calls for gun control: Cities can ban plastic straws but 'we can't ban assault weapons?' Churches are arming and training congregants in response to mass shootings: report 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.