Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday he had changed his opinion on impeachment and now believes it is the right time for the House to begin an inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Reid, who retired in 2017 after a 30-year stint in the Senate, told USA Today it was important to give Americans a “view of what’s going on” by launching an impeachment inquiry, pointing to allegations in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report that some have asserted amount to “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
“I think that that’s one reason an inquiry should go forward, to find out how the public reacts to this,” Reid said Tuesday.
The former lawmaker did voice some caution, however, noting that a House-led impeachment inquiry or panel would be the best path forward at this time because it wouldn’t necessarily mean the full chamber would then vote to impeach Trump. Such an effort, Reid said, could influence public opinion on the president.
“It’s not the right thing to do nothing,” Reid told USA Today. He then noted, “It’s not the right thing to jump into impeachment without doing an inquiry.”
The comments reflect an abrupt change of opinion from the longtime senator, who just weeks ago voiced his opposition to a growing chorus of prominent Democrats who have called for impeachment. Reid has been no fan of Trump since he took office, and in January he called the president the “worst” the country has ever had.
In an interview last month with The New York Times, Reid expressed similar hesitations to other Democrats when it came to impeachment, worrying that it would only bolster the president and his supporters going into the 2020 election. He made similar comments at an event in Las Vegas, saying he didn’t think Democrats could “afford” to go ahead with impeachment.
“You don’t have to go very far to remember what happened. I mean, Clinton was impeached — it helped him,” Reid told the Times. “And, you know, I’ve been saying that for several months.”
He noted that he planned to reach out to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to share his thoughts with her.
Impeachment has remained a touchy subject for many Democratic leaders, including Pelosi, who has so far resisted efforts from within her party to launch impeachment hearings against Trump. Her slow approach going into next year’s elections has left some liberal groups and members of her party frustrated.