House Majority Whip James Clyburn is resisting calls from other Democrats to try to impeach President Trump over a phone call in which he pressured Georgia’s Secretary of State to “find” enough votes to win him the state’s election. Clyburn said impeachment efforts so close to the end of Trump’s presidency would be a “waste” of Congress’ time.
“I would like someone to tell me how we can draw up impeachment proceedings and get all that done in 14-15 days. I don’t see how that can be done, and so why waste our time dealing with something that just cannot be done?” the South Carolina Democrat told CBSN “Red & Blue” anchor Elaine Quijano on Tuesday.
“I would advise us to leave this activity because it looks as if they were violating state laws as well as federal laws,” he said. “That’s where the investigation ought to take place.”
Mr. Trump’s term ends January 20, when President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in. Mr. Trump, however, has tried to unsuccessfully fight the outcome of the election, falsely claiming there was widespread fraud. The president went as far as pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, to change the vote in his favor, which the Georgia official refused.
Some Democrats are now calling for a criminal investigation into Trump’s actions. Congressman Ted Lieu of California and Congresswoman Kathleen Rice of New York asked the FBI to investigate the call in a letter on Monday.
While Clyburn shut down the idea of impeachment, he was more open to potential charges coming from the Justice Department.
“It all depends on what the charges are,” Clyburn said. “If you’re talking about the misuse of his office as it relates to this election, the election will be over. The Electoral College will have done its work and that will be behind us. But if there are other issues that come to the attention of the Justice Department, I think the Justice Department ought to do its job.”
“That doesn’t mean that the president has to be involved in that. He would not be involved in that,” Clyburn added. “But it does mean that any officer of the court, including the attorney general, would do what is necessary to pursue justice on behalf of the American people. And so what the Justice Department will do as an independent agency, it should do. That’s not Biden. Biden would have a big enough job trying to get us beyond this pandemic and trying to get this economy back on equity footing.”
Mr. Trump was impeached in December 2019 by the Democratic-controlled House. The Senate, controlled by Republicans, acquitted the president.