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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 TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE, including hearing testimony from 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, 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 SchumerUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration Voters say Biden should make coronavirus vaccine a priority: poll New York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn 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 WarrenThomas Piketty says pandemic is opportunity to address income inequality The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation Disney laying off 32,000 workers as coronavirus batters theme parks MORE (D-Mass.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisKamala Harris calls nurse on Thanksgiving to express gratitude in fight against COVID-19 Trump campaign loses appeal over Pennsylvania race The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation 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 PelosiGovernors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation MORE (D-Calif.), who has sounded a cautious note on impeachment. 

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Whitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee 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 DurbinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Whitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee 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 BookerSenate Democrats reelect Schumer as leader by acclamation  Hill associations push for more diversity in lawmakers' staffs Sanders celebrates Biden-Harris victory: 'Thank God democracy won out' 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 MurphyRepublicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Biden decides on pick for secretary of State 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 ConnollyGSA offers to brief Congress next week on presidential transition Democrats gear up for last oversight showdown with Trump Biden campaign pushes GSA chief to approve transition 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 ClarkFive House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet House Democrats pick Aguilar as No. 6 leader in next Congress Nominated for another Speaker term, Pelosi says it's her last 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 McConnellBiden's climate plans can cut emissions and also be good politics Acting Defense secretary makes surprise trip to Somalia As Biden administration ramps up, Trump legal effort drags on 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.