‘The reality is that the Republican members of Congress with very few exceptions have been utterly unwilling to stand up to this president…’
(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said that although he believed evidence “militates very strongly in favor” of accusations against President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was “absolutely right” to oppose impeachment.
Schiff has been notoriously aggressive in his probes of Trump, specifically in regards to alleged collusion between Trump’s administration and the Russian government. But to pursue impeachment, the evidence would need to be “clear and compelling,” he said, according to Bloomberg News.
After months of expressing certainty over a Trump impeachment—and even an indictment that would land the ex-president in prison—Schiff’s softening of his stance could be the latest indicator that Democrats are expecting the findings of Special Counselor Robert Mueller to be underwhelming and anticlimactic.
Thus far, despite several Trump campaign associates being handed indictments on process-related charges—matters unrelated or tangentially related to the Russia investigation—no evidence has been publicly presented that would implicate Trump directly in any alleged collusion.
Schiff’s comments echoed Pelosi’s, who told The Washington Post recently, in the most unequivocal language yet, that she would not support impeachment because it wasn’t worth the potential fallout.
“Since you asked, and I’ve been thinking about this,” Pelosi said. “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.”
Schiff agreed with Pelosi that Congressional Democrats alone did not have the political means to pursue further action without Republican bicameral support.
“I think the speaker is absolutely right,” he said. “In its absence, impeachment becomes a partisan exercise in failure.”
A party-line vote resulting in impeachment charges from the House would not be enough to remove Trump from office after a Senate trial.
As happened during Bill Clinton‘s impeachment proceedings, even under the weight of material evidence of wrongdoing, the move could create backlash if deemed unjustly partisan—and Trump certainly would use it to fire up his base prior to the 2020 election.
However, despite the retreat, Schiff continued to launch political attacks, blaming the GOP for refusing to investigate and confront Trump.
“The reality is that the Republican members of Congress with very few exceptions have been utterly unwilling to stand up to this president,” he said.
Without “graphic evidence” of collusion, the Republican-led Senate refused to cooperate with the Democrats in their ongoing bid to remove Trump from office, Schiff complained.
Nonetheless, Schiff and other powerful committee leaders appear ready to continue hamstringing the White House with investigations, even after the Mueller report is filed. Some have hired full-time investigative and prosecutorial staffs, and Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler on Monday sent letters to more than 80 potential witnesses he intends to call for testimony.
Schiff said that if the impeachment efforts fail politically, the Justice Department should consider taking action against Trump after he leaves office because there is substantial evidence of the president’s “lack of fitness for office, including possible criminality.”