House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told CNN on Thursday that it would not be “worthwhile” for House Democrats to pursue impeachment in the aftermath of the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
“Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point,” Hoyer, the second highest-ranking House Democrat, told CNN. “Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgment.”
Following the highly-anticipated release on Thursday, prominent congressional Democrats raised serious concerns about the President’s conduct as detailed in the report and made clear that their own investigations into the President and his administration will continue. Democrats are now calling for Mueller to testify before Congress, reiterating demands for access to the full, unredacted report and criticizing the Attorney General’s handling of its rollout.
But there is no indication as of now that House Democratic leadership will alter its strategy of avoiding impeachment proceedings.
Ever since winning the House majority in the 2018 midterm elections, House Democratic leaders have worked to tamp down any talk of potential impeachment, while only a small, but vocal, fringe of House Democrats have argued that it should be pursued. Last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made headlines when she told the Washington Post, “I’m not for impeachment,” arguing that impeachment would be extremely divisive for the country and saying that Trump is “just not worth it.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said during a Thursday news conference that impeachment is “one possibility” among others to hold the President accountable, saying, “We obviously have to get to the bottom of what happened and take whatever action seems necessary at that time.”
But Nadler suggested that it would be premature to about talk impeachment now.
“It’s too early to reach those conclusions,” he said.
Asked if the Mueller report would provide a “road map” should Democrats initiate impeachment proceedings, the New York Democrat similarly said, “It’s too early to talk about that,” adding, “we will have to follow the evidence where it leads.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said during a separate news conference that “the facts that are now established by this report are damning.”
But, when asked if what he saw in the report rises to the level where impeachment should be considered, the California Democrat responded, “We need to look at the full report.”
“The evidence would have to be quite overwhelming and demonstrable and such that it would generate bipartisan support for the idea that it renders the President unfit for office,” Schiff later told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, adding later, “But unless that’s a bipartisan conclusion, an impeachment would be doomed to failure. I continue to think that a failed impeachment is not in the national interest.”
Democratic Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton from the District of Columbia took a more blunt approach to the subject of impeachment, effectively warning her colleagues in a statement that it would be “futile” and a way to “squander our first majority in eight years.”
“With the release of the Mueller Report, questions about impeachment will be given new life,” Norton said.
But, she cautioned, “Even if the House had a majority for impeachment, for sure, the Senate, controlled by Republicans, would not have the 2/3 necessary for conviction.”
“What a waste to squander our first majority in eight years on a futile impeachment process,” she said. “The public expects Democrats to show something for the majority they have given us. The question of Trump’s obstruction of justice, which many Americans believe they saw in plain sight, is still on the table. That leaves a great deal of investigation to be done by Congress. That does not change my view, however, that impeachment will take us down a road that goes nowhere.”
But not all members of Congress feel impeachment should be taken of the table. Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most high-profile members in the historic House freshmen class, tweeted Thursday that she would be signing on to an impeachment proposal led by fellow freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
“Mueller’s report is clear in pointing to Congress’ responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the President. It is our job as outlined in Article 1, Sec 2, Clause 5 of the US Constitution,” she wrote in a series of tweets. “As such, I’ll be signing onto @RashidaTlaib’s impeachment resolution.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Thursday.