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 PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move Pelosi: Israel's Omar-Tlaib decision 'a sign of weakness' 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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerColorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down Trump ahead of New Hampshire speech: Lewandowski would be 'fantastic' senator Hickenlooper ends presidential bid 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 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. “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 ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down Trump seeks to project confidence on economy at New Hampshire rally MORE in 2016, and in Arizona.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump vows to 'always uphold the Second Amendment' amid ongoing talks on gun laws White House eyes September action plan for gun proposals Trump phoned Democratic senator to talk gun control 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) TesterNative American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Budget deal sparks scramble to prevent shutdown 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 DurbinHouse panel investigating decision to resume federal executions To combat domestic terrorism, Congress must equip law enforcement to fight rise in white supremacist attacks Five proposals Congress is eyeing after mass shootings 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 SandersPoll: Support for Sanders among college students reaches highest level since April The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Native American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment 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 Ann WarrenWarren unveils Native American policy plan Poll: Support for Sanders among college students reaches highest level since April Obama has taken active interest in Biden's campaign: report 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 HarrisPoll: Support for Sanders among college students reaches highest level since April Native American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment Fox News poll shows Trump losing to Biden, Warren, Sanders and Harris MORE (D-Calif.), who has otherwise expressed support for beginning the impeachment process.  

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandSteve King to Gillibrand: Odds of me resigning same as yours of winning presidential nomination The Hill's Morning Report — Recession fears climb and markets dive — now what? King incites furor with abortion, rape and incest remarks 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 BarrWilliam Pelham BarrUS attorney blames Philadelphia DA for 'culture of disrespect' that led to police shootings GOP senators call for Barr to release full results of Epstein investigation Nadler subpoenas Lewandowski, former White House official for testimony MORE, former White House counsel Don McGahn and 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.

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 TrumpWarren unveils Native American policy plan Live-action 'Mulan' star spurs calls for boycott with support of Hong Kong police Don't let other countries unfairly tax America's most innovative companies 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.”