Senate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk

Senate Democrats want the House to cool it on impeachment. 

They see an impeachment drive as hurting more than helping their efforts to win back the Senate majority and generally back Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi, Schumer slam Trump executive orders, call for GOP to come back to negotiating table Trump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter Sunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief MORE's (D-Calif.) efforts to keep a lid on the issue.

Even Senate Democrats running for president who back impeachment aren’t pressing Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi, Schumer slam Trump executive orders, call for GOP to come back to negotiating table Sunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief Postal Service says it lost .2 billion over three-month period MORE (N.Y.) to take a more aggressive approach to the issue.

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Democratic senators say the subject of impeachment rarely even comes up in caucus-wide meetings and that it distracts from issues like health care they see as more important to voters.

“I don’t think we should go there now,” said Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Yates spars with GOP at testy hearing Democrats want Biden to debate Trump despite risks MORE (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I was here for the Clinton impeachment, and after it was over I wished it never had happened. I think we ought to be very, very cautious with that kind of thing."

“Everybody does what they do based on their own desires, but I don’t find it helpful,” she said of fellow Democrats who are pushing for the beginning of an impeachment inquiry.

Schumer, who is not shy about criticizing Trump, has stuck with Pelosi’s line that more investigation needs to be done.

“My view is that we ought to get all the facts out, the way the House is doing now with Leader Pelosi,” he said. “If you have a little patience all the information will come out and then decisions will be made.”

Democrats already face an uphill fight in winning back the Senate.

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority, and Democrats must defend Sen. Doug Jones (D) in Republican-leaning Alabama. Their best opportunities for picking up seats may be in Maine and Colorado, where Trump lost to Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBlumenthal calls for declassification of materials detailing Russian threat to US elections Hillary Clinton roasts NYT's Maureen Dowd over column Hillary Clinton touts student suspended over crowded hallway photo: 'John Lewis would be proud' MORE in 2016, and in Arizona.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinHillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court cancels shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline | US could avoid 4.5M early deaths by fighting climate change, study finds | Officials warn of increasing cyber threats to critical infrastructure during pandemic Officials warn of increasing cyber threats to critical infrastructure during pandemic MORE (D-W.Va.) argues that moving ahead with impeachment proceedings would be a waste of time given the Senate Republican majority.

Manchin said House Democrats pushing for impeachment proceedings “ought to come over and talk to their Republican colleagues” in the Senate, “because they’re going to have to have some votes there.”

It would require a two-thirds majority, or 67 votes, to convict the president in the Senate.

“There’s no appetite whatsoever,” Manchin said of impeachment.

He also said it would divide the country unnecessarily.

“Impeachment and all that goes with impeachment wouldn’t be done any quicker than the election would be done so it’s crazy. Makes no sense at all,” he said.

Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - At loggerheads, Congress, White House to let jobless payout lapse Overnight Defense: Senate poised to pass defense bill with requirement to change Confederate base names | Key senator backs Germany drawdown | Space Force chooses 'semper supra' as motto Democrats call for expedited hearing for Trump's public lands nominee MORE (D-Mont.) said talk of impeachment doesn’t come up in caucus meetings.

“I’ve never heard it,” he said. “It’s getting the cart ahead of the horse. You got to get the information, you got to do a study, you got to release a law report, you got to get the underlying documents."

“I just think it’s a little premature,” he added.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire MORE (Ill.) said there’s little to no chance that House-passed impeachment articles would win much Republican support in the Senate.

He argued that relatively few House Democrats are actually pushing to begin impeachment.

“I think we need to work on things that convince them that a Democratic Congress is in their best interest,” he said of voters in the 2020 elections. “If you ask me, the biggest issue of the last week is Alabama” and the ban it enacted on abortion without exceptions for cases of rape and incest.

There are exceptions.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Memo: Trump team pounces on Biden gaffes The Hill's Campaign Report: US officials say Russia, China are looking to sow discord in election Warren urges investment in child care workers amid pandemic MORE (I-Vt.), a progressive presidential candidate, told CNN on Thursday that “it may well be time for an impeachment inquiry to begin” if the president “continues to not understand the Constitution of the United States” and the “separation of powers.”

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden campaign says no VP pick yet after bike trail quip Biden edges closer to VP pick: Here's who's up and who's down Democratic convention lineup to include Ocasio-Cortez, Clinton, Warren: reports MORE (D-Mass.), another White House hopeful, delivered a Senate floor speech on May 7 calling on Congress to begin impeachment proceedings.

Other Democratic candidates are taking a slightly different approach.

“I wouldn’t tell them what to do. I respect their perspective and opinion,” said Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBiden campaign says no VP pick yet after bike trail quip Hillary Clinton roasts NYT's Maureen Dowd over column Biden edges closer to VP pick: Here's who's up and who's down MORE (D-Calif.), who has otherwise expressed support for beginning the impeachment process.  

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandExpanding our health force can save lives and create jobs simultaneously Sanders offers bill to tax billionaires' wealth gains during pandemic Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (D-N.Y.), another presidential candidate, said she agrees with Pelosi and Schumer that more investigating needs to be done.

“From my perspective, I think it’s really important to have a process. And the process that we’ve started is to try to get testimony from Barr and McGahn and Mueller,” she said, referring to Attorney General William BarrBill BarrGOP lawmaker calls for Justice Dept. to probe international court Barr pulls over to thank pro-police rally in Virginia Trump: Yates either lying or grossly incompetent MORE, former White House counsel Don McGahn and 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.

Gillibrand noted that Trump has blocked McGahn from testifying, but said Democrats have begun contempt proceedings and “the goal is to get the facts.”

“So I think we’re just going to keep proceeding to getting those facts.”

A Democratic senator who requested anonymity to comment on the private views of colleagues said few colleagues support Sanders’s call to begin impeachment proceedings unless Trump starts cooperating with Congress.

“There’s very little support for moving forward with impeachment, but I believe there’s a lot of support for being aggressive with oversight and doing the hearings,” the lawmaker said.

The senator said that many Senate Democratic colleagues don’t want the 2020 elections to be a debate about impeachment instead of issues they believe would be more effective in moving votes, such as protecting people with pre-existing medical conditions and safeguarding abortion rights.

“The reality is we’re only six months away from starting votes in the presidential election, so how do we want to spend those six months? Do we want to spend them honing our message like we did in 2018?” the senator said. “It takes a long time to drill all that stuff in. As soon as you go to impeachment, that dominates the entire agenda and then that becomes the presidential campaign.”

They fear that Trump would quickly turn the table on them.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeWine tests negative for coronavirus a second time Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Beirut aftermath poses test for US aid to frustrating ally MORE is brilliant at making himself a victim,” the senator said. “Pelosi is an amazing leader. I think a lot of other leaders would have caved by now and just gone with the will. She’s got wisdom and she’s got courage.”