In a shocking admission, the man leading the House investigations into the Trump White House, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), agreed with Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), that impeaching the president is probably off the table absent "graphic evidence" that Donald Trump committed grievous crimes.
Speaking to CNN Monday night, Schiff, who has been the Democrats' point man on investigations into the Trump White House, the Trump campaign, and the Trump corporation, devoting hundreds of man hours to subpoenaing and questioning witnesses and collecting documents, denied that impeachment is the end game.
"In the absence of very graphic evidence, it would be difficult to get the support in the Senate needed to make an impeachment successful. Again, my feeling is let's see what Bob Mueller produces. But the evidence would have to be pretty overwhelming," he said.
Pelosi told The Washington Post Monday that, "I’m not for impeachment. Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.”
Both Pelosi and Schiff have questioned the utility of impeachment proceedings for some time, but while Pelosi, the more experienced campaign professional, has often said she is not interested in impeaching the president — likely because the process would inflame the president's base shortly before the 2020 presidential election — Schiff has largely maintained that impeachment should remain on the table, even if actually removing the president from office is unlikely.
Back in October, Schiff mentioned impeachment directly, though according to the Washington Examiner he walked back his plan to impeach the president in February, around the time rumors began to surface that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was nearing the end of his probe into whether the Trump campaign had actively colluded with Russian officials to impact the outcome of the 2016 presidential elections, and had found little evidence to support Democrats' theories of Russian intervention.
Mueller is funded through October of 2019, leaving Democrats at least a little hope that the Special Counsel's inquiry isn't fully over, but, last week, "placeholder" links began appearing on Amazon, touting the report's release date as "March 26th" — just a little over a week away. And although Mueller has managed to indict and convict several Trump associates, none are guilty of active collusion during the 2016 election period.
Schiff and Pelosi are, instead, probably managing Democrat expectations of the Mueller report and of the Democratic response, especially so close to a national election.
Even if impeachment is off the table, though, Schiff says he still plans to pursue his multiple investigations into the White House, and has issued more than 60 subpoenas to witnesses across the globe, seeking information on the Trump Corporation's personal and financial affiliations, deals involving Deutch Bank, and connections between Trump associates and Russian officials.