House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said on Wednesday the impeachment of President Donald Trump could remain on the table even if the special counsel clears the president.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating the president and his associates for nearly two years.
Democrats have hoped the inquiry would reveal wrongdoing by the president — and possibly lead to impeachment proceedings. But Schiff noted that impeachment could still be an option even if the investigation exonerates the president.
“There may be grounds for removal of office or there may be grounds for indictment after he leaves office that the Congress discovers,” Schiff said on the MSNBC program “Morning Joe.”
“Our predominant concern on my committee is: Was this president, is this president, compromised by a foreign power?”
The House Intelligence Committee is just one of the many congressional committees looking at the president’s activities for alleged crimes, including ties to Russia. Schiff argued the special counsel had a narrow mandate that could preclude it from finding certain crimes. He pointed to accusations that Russians were laundering money for the Trump Organization.
The special counsel investigation is expected to conclude sometime soon, though that’s yet to be confirmed.
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Congressional Democrats have faced some divisions over the notion of impeachment. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have maintained they should wait for clear evidence that the president broke a crime severe enough to warrant such a process.
Pelosi also warned that such a process would divide the country and that the president is “not worth” it.
Trump has been highly critical of the special counsel investigation and has called it the single greatest “witch hunt” in the country’s history. The president has also accused Mueller of having conflicts of interests for his close history with people like former FBI Director James Comey.
House Republicans have also accused agents who were part of the team of bias against the president.
Trump has repeatedly said he doesn’t plan to end the special counsel probe despite his own issues with it. Lawmakers have sought to ensure the investigation is able to finish; the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act was reintroduced in early January to protect the special counsel investigation from the president.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have called on the eventual special counsel report to be transparent. But the issue is there are limits to what Mueller can provide to lawmakers. Special counsel regulations dictate the team will submit a confidential report to the attorney general — but the rules don’t require those findings to be shared with Congress.
Senate Judiciary Committee members introduced a bipartisan bill on January 28 to ensure the report is made public.
The Special Counsel Transparency Act requires a special counsel submit a report directly to Congress and the public within two weeks of concluding its investigation. Some lawmakers have even considered subpoenas to get the report.
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