LOS ANGELES (CN) – California Rep. Adam Schiff said Thursday that despite President Donald Trump representing a danger to democracy, initiating impeachment proceedings against him may not produce the results Democrats desire.
In a stirring conversation with Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, Schiff, who represents the Golden State’s 28th District, added that while the political benefits of impeachment proceedings remain unclear, focusing resources to vote Trump out of office is a worthy political battle to take on.
“Impeachment doesn’t remove this president,” Schiff said. “There is only one way to remove this president and that is by voting him out of office. That is an imperative that is second to none.”
Tensions between Congress and the White House have mounted over recent months as Democrats have accused the Trump administration of stonewalling the release of documents tied to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in U.S. elections.
Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has been at the center of the political tussle, leading the committee’s vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for refusing to comply with the Mueller report-related subpoena.
At Thursday’s event – hosted at the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters – Schiff slammed Barr’s four-page summary of the Mueller report in which he appeared to clear the president of wrongdoing by saying the findings did not conclude that Trump committed obstruction of justice.
In June 2018, months before being confirmed by the Senate, Barr sent a memo to the Justice Department that was critical of the Mueller investigation and included his opinion that Mueller could not force Trump to submit to an interview.
“That is the biggest threat, that the county’s top law enforcement official believes the president is above the law,” Schiff said. “I think he is a very dangerous man.”
Schiff said Barr should resign, a call made by his fellow Democrats during a May 1 Senate hearing.
“He should’ve never been appointed,” Schiff said. “The fact that the Senate would confirm him tells you why our democracy is in such trouble right now.”
Feuer asked Schiff whether Mueller should be called before Congress to answer questions in light of the special counsel’s resignation this week and his statements to the press that his report covers any potential line of questioning from lawmakers.
Schiff, a former assistant U.S attorney, said Mueller should testify about why his office did not push harder to interview Trump and whether his officer properly reviewed the testimony of key witnesses, including the president’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who later revealed that he lied to Congress.
“He has one more service to the country and that is to answer questions,” Schiff said about Mueller, who he called an “institutionalist” for relying on the Justice Department’s opinion that he could not charge Trump with a crime.
The political tussle over the Mueller report has framed the Democrats’ conversations on whether to pursue impeachment proceedings against Trump, a move that House Speaker and California Democrat Nancy Pelosi has largely sidestepped.
Schiff, pressed by Feuer on whether he would pursue impeachment, said he would call for proceedings if Trump ignored a court order – adding that it would be ‘a bridge too far” – or if his committee’s potential request for documents related to investigations of Trump would be strengthened by an “impeachment context.”
Schiff, who called Trump “incompatible for office,” told Feuer that Democrats must balance the impact that impeachment proceedings would have on the country ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
“I don’t think people should be under impression that impeachment is a cure-all,” Schiff said. “Maybe the right question is, ‘Is this the right thing for the country?’ I’m not there yet but the president is doing everything to get me there.”