On Sunday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) appeared on MSNBC and told Joy Reid that Democrats shouldn’t rush to impeachment. However, he also appeared to presume some kind of guilt on the part of President Trump:
You know, I have the unusual experience of having tried an impeachment case in the Senate involving a New Orleans judge a few years ago, and I realize what a high bar it is. And in a Republican Congress, the bar is: can Republican members go back to their districts and make the case that they voted to remove the president because his conduct was so incompatible with office, and it was not simply a way of nullifying the vote because those other people didn't like the result. That's a pretty high bar.
And the president goes to all these rallies to essentially make the anti-impeachment argument when he says, "those people who look down on you are trying to steal your great electoral victory."
My feeling is that we shouldn't give any ammunition to the idea that we are racing to embrace this before all the facts are in. Let's finish our investigations; let’s see where they lead. Let's find out what the president's conduct has been, as well as those around him, and those in the campaign, and then we can make a decision about what the consequences should be.
During a press conference in May, Schiff made similar remarks:
In order for that remedy [impeachment] to be appropriate, the country has to believe that the seriousness of the conduct is such that this President cannot continue in office. It cannot be perceived as an effort to nullify the election by other means. That, at the end of the day, I think, is the practical test of that.
While incredibly staid in both statements, Schiff appears to be implying that some guilt exists, and that it simply needs to be uncovered before anyone moves to impeach. "Let's find out what the president's conduct has been ... and then we can make a decision about what the consequences should be."
He also appears to endorse the idea that the perception of validity on the part of the American people is a sort of benchmark for such a proceeding. The president either commits impeachable offenses or he does not. Perception from the outside in, while an important factor in terms of political optics, isn’t relevant.