By Zack Budryk
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in an interview published Monday the House should open an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, despite earlier counseling against the move.
“It’s not the right thing to do nothing [and] it’s not the right thing to jump into impeachment without doing an inquiry,” Reid told USA Today.
Any such inquiry, he said, should primarily focus on “giv[ing] the American people a view of what’s going on.”
Reid addressed concerns that, since impeachment proceedings would be doomed in the Republican controlled Senate, the process would only allow Trump to claim he had been exonerated.
“That has been one of the big arguments against the impeachment,” Reid said. “Why make Trump a hero by saying ‘they couldn’t impeach me?’” However, he said this risk was “all the more reason why the inquiry is the right thing to do.”
Polling indicates a majority of Americans oppose impeaching Trump, with the most recent poll in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation showing 41 percent in favor. However, Reid said, further investigation could move the needle on the idea. “I
think that that’s one reason an inquiry should go forward, to find out how the public reacts to this,” he told USA Today.
Reid said he would reach out on the subject to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has consistently opposed impeachment and with whom Reid regularly communicates.
An impeachment inquiry, in which the House established a panel to investigate potential “high crimes and misdemeanors” by Trump, would be distinct from impeachment proceedings and would not guarantee them.
Reid, who retired in 2017, was a member of the Senate the last time the chamber conducted an impeachment trial after the House voted to impeach then-President Bill Clinton.
Reid’s interview came as Democratic House leadership makes efforts to appear unified on the issue. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.),
the No. 3 Democrat in the House, suggested to CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday that Trump’s impeachment was inevitable, but walked back his
comments Monday after a meeting with leadership.
“I’m probably farther away from impeachment than anybody in our caucus,” Clyburn told reporters Monday night.
“We will not get out in front of our committees. We’ll see what the committees come up with. I’ve said that forever.”
At least 55 House lawmakers have publicly voiced support for opening impeachment proceedings.