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 PelosiPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump Democrats open door to repealing ObamaCare tax in spending talks Sunday talk shows: Lawmakers gear up ahead of Monday's House Judiciary hearing 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 SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP 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 FeinsteinGiffords, Demand Justice to pressure GOP senators to reject Trump judicial pick Senate confirms Trump pick labeled 'not qualified' by American Bar Association Feinstein endorses Christy Smith for Katie Hill's former House seat 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 ClintonDemocrats battle for Hollywood's cash The House Judiciary Committee's fundamental choice Sanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire MORE in 2016, and in Arizona.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinStatesmen seek bipartisan solutions to big challenges Both sides have reason to want speedy Trump impeachment trial No one wins with pro-abortion litmus test 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) TesterGOP braces for Democratic spending onslaught in battle for Senate Former rancher says failure to restore meat labeling law is costing rural America 'billions' Tester: Our forefathers would not have tolerated Trump asking Ukraine to investigate Biden 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 DurbinSupreme Court poised to hear first major gun case in a decade Protecting the future of student data privacy: The time to act is now Overnight Health Care: Crunch time for Congress on surprise medical bills | CDC confirms 47 vaping-related deaths | Massachusetts passes flavored tobacco, vaping products ban 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 SandersWarren, Buttigieg fight echoes 2004 campaign, serves as warning for 2020 race Democrats battle for Hollywood's cash Sanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire 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 WarrenTrump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax Warren, Buttigieg fight echoes 2004 campaign, serves as warning for 2020 race Democrats battle for Hollywood's cash 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 HarrisBooker campaign rakes in million after Harris exits 2020 race Democrats battle for Hollywood's cash Yang expands campaign with senior hires for digital operations MORE (D-Calif.), who has otherwise expressed support for beginning the impeachment process.  

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandWhite House, Congress near deal to give 12 weeks paid parental leave to all federal workers Bloomberg on 2020 rivals blasting him for using his own money: 'They had a chance to go out and make a lot of money' Harris posts video asking baby if she'll run for president one day 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 BarrTrump: Giuliani to deliver report on Ukraine trip to Congress, Barr 'Project Guardian' is the effective gun law change we need Supreme Court denies Trump request to immediately resume federal executions MORE, former White House counsel Don McGahn and special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump 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 TrumpPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump FBI identifies Pensacola shooter as Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force second lieutenant Trump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax 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.”