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 TrumpNational Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Democratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' MORE, including hearing testimony from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay 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 SchumerSanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications Senators are politicians, not jurors — they should act like it 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 to headline Iowa event amid impeachment trial Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti rips Sanders over handling of feud with Warren On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Sanders defends vote against USMCA | China sees weakest growth in 29 years | Warren praises IRS move on student loans MORE (D-Mass.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial Overnight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 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 PelosiRepublicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment Trump chooses high-profile but controversial legal team Trump: Impeachment timing intended to hurt Sanders MORE (D-Calif.), who has sounded a cautious note on impeachment. 

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate opens Trump impeachment trial Democrats ask if US citizens were detained at border checkpoints due to Iranian national origin Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week 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 DurbinOvernight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Senate Dems urge Esper to oppose shifting Pentagon money to border wall Trump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer 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 BookerDNC announces new criteria for New Hampshire debate The Hill's Campaign Report: Sanders, Warren feud rattles Democrats The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial 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 request briefing on intel behind Trump's embassy threat claim US citizen dies in Egyptian prison after hunger strike President Trump's strike of choice 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 ConnollyTrump, Democrats set for brawl on Iran war powers Overnight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers Democrats 'utterly unpersuaded' by evidence behind Soleimani strike 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 ClarkDemocrats ramp up calls for war powers vote after Iran strike Nearly all Democrats expected to back articles of impeachment The Hill's Morning Report - Fallout from day one of Trump impeachment hearing 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 McConnellDems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Senate GOP mulls speeding up Trump impeachment trial Republicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment 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.