Impeaching President Donald Trump is more a matter of “when” than “if,” according to comments made Sunday by a top House Democrat.
South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the Democratic House whip, said that despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s public comments that impeachment could still be far off, House Democrats are laying the groundwork behind the scenes.
“I think we’ve already begun. We’ve got all of these committees doing their work, we’re having hearings,” Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The issue of impeachment has divided Democrats. Some have called for the House to aggressively pursue efforts to remove Trump from office.
Others, particularly Pelosi, have urged caution and suggested impeachment might never be acted upon. That has caused a rift among Democrats with some, such as Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, making a high-profile push for Democrats to support impeachment.
— Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (@RepRashida) May 30, 2019
Under the Constitution, the House prepares articles of impeachment against the president, which can be approved by a simple majority. A trial on those charges is then held by the Senate, where a conviction would require a two-thirds majority.
In the current makeup of Congress, Democrats have a House majority that could pass articles of impeachment against Trump, but the Republican-majority Senate is not likely to make those stick. The net effect of that is that even if the House acts, Trump is unlikely to be removed from office.
Even a House majority is not a lock. According to The New York Times, which surveyed Democrats, 56 Democrats support removing Trump and 59 are either opposed for now or have not decided. The Times said 120 members had not yet responded. Only one House Republican, Justin Amash of Michigan, has said he supports impeaching Trump.
On “State of the Union,” Clyburn said special council Robert Mueller laid down the path for Democrats to follow to impeach Trump.
“I never said he should not be impeached. What I said time and time again is Mueller has developed the grounds for impeachment. The House has to determine the timing for impeachment. There’s a big difference,” Clyburn said.
He said timing is critical.
“Haste makes waste. Let’s take our time and do this efficiently, not just effectively. All it takes is 218 votes to effectively impeach the president,” he said.
“What Nancy Pelosi is trying to do, and the rest of us in the House of Representatives, is to develop a process by which we can efficiently move on this issue so that when we get to a vote, it would be something that she calls ‘ironclad,’ I call ‘effective,’” he added.
He said that done right, impeachment would not be seen as a strictly political move.
Some House Democrats have called for impeaching Trump ever since the president took office, with those calls growing once Democrats won control of the House in the 2018 midterms.
As a counterpoint to Democratic conversations about how and when to impeach Trump, Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana laid down a dare for the Democrats during a Sunday talk show appearance.
.@SenJohnKennedy tells Democrats to make a decision on impeachment: “Impeachment polls right up there with skim milk with the American people. But my advice to my Democratic friends is, if you want to do it, go hard or go home.” pic.twitter.com/3zKjCjZe5r
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) June 2, 2019
“Impeachment polls right up there with skim milk among the American people. But my advice to my Democratic friends is if you want to do it, go hard or go home,” Kennedy said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“If you want to do it, go to Amazon online, buy a spine and do it,” he said. “If you’re not going to do it, then let us get back to work.”