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 PelosiSekulow indicates White House not interested in motion to dismiss impeachment articles Overnight Health Care: Trump restores funding for Texas program that bars Planned Parenthood | Trump to attend March for Life | PhRMA spent record on 2019 lobbying Key House committee chairman to meet with Mnuchin on infrastructure next week 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 SchumerCollins walks impeachment tightrope 'Emotion' from Trump's legal team wins presidential plaudits Biden says he would not engage in witness swap in impeachment trial 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 FeinsteinCalifornia Democrat Christy Smith launches first TV ad in bid for Katie Hill's former House seat Biden wins endorsement of Sacramento mayor Roberts under pressure from both sides in witness fight 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 ClintonCollins walks impeachment tightrope Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti rips Sanders for 'inability to actually fight with bad actors' in party Hill.TV's Krystal Ball knocks Clinton's 'mean girl' comments against Sanders MORE in 2016, and in Arizona.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer Poll: West Virginia voters would view Manchin negatively if he votes to convict Trump Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week 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) TesterNadler gets under GOP's skin I'm a conservative against Citizens United Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week 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 DurbinTensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum Nadler gets under GOP's skin Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on 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 Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' Tensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum Sanders wants one-on-one fight with Biden 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 WarrenTensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum Sanders wants one-on-one fight with Biden Biden, Sanders tax plans would raise less revenue than claimed: studies 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 HarrisCalifornia Democrat Christy Smith launches first TV ad in bid for Katie Hill's former House seat Steyer spokesperson: 'I don't think necessarily that Tom has bought anything' Biden wins endorsement of Sacramento mayor MORE (D-Calif.), who has otherwise expressed support for beginning the impeachment process.  

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSanders 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-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 BarrLawmaker wants Chinese news outlet to register as foreign agent The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Barr wrote 2018 memo contradicting Trump's claim that abuse of power is not impeachable MORE, former White House counsel Don McGahn and 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.

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 TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial 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.”