Hillary Clinton on Tuesday said she agrees with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in her reluctance to call for the impeachment of President Donald Trump in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report.
“I think what Nancy means, and I agree with what she means, is that it shouldn’t be a pre-ordained conclusion,” the former secretary of state said during an interview at the Time 100 Summit in New York City.
“It shouldn’t be what you do for partisan political purposes almost outside of the framework of the Constitution. It should be something undertaken in a really serious ... way based on evidence,” she continued.
Though some Democrats, including 2020 presidential contenders Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.), have made concrete statements in support of impeaching Trump, Pelosi has taken a more measured approach.
In a letter to her colleagues Monday, Pelosi acknowledged efforts to seek impeachment against the president in light of the “highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior” conducted by Trump, as laid out in the Mueller report.
“As you know, last Thursday’s release of the redacted Mueller Report has caused a public outcry for truth and accountability,” Pelosi said in her letter. “While our views range from proceeding to investigate the finding of the Mueller report or proceeding directly to impeachment, we all firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth.”
Clinton on Tuesday compared a potential Trump impeachment to the impeachment of President Richard Nixon in 1974. Many public hearings involving Nixon administration officials took place before the House initiated impeachment proceedings against him, she noted.
As a staff attorney for the House Judiciary Committee at the time, Clinton researched the historical grounds for impeachment and helped draft a memo on what constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors.
“I have a kind of weird personal history about impeachment,” Clinton said during the Time summit. “It took several years for the slow acquisition and the publication of information to show the level of corruption and obstruction that was existing in [the Nixon] White House. ... By the end of it, the evidence was overwhelming.”
Clinton said the Mueller report “could not be more explicit” in laying out evidence that Trump obstructed justice, adding that “any other person who had engaged in those acts would certainly have been indicted” if not for the Justice Department determination that a sitting president cannot be indicted.
Nonetheless, she said, Congress must investigate and examine the evidence “as objectively as possible” before deciding to move forward with impeachment.
“I think Nancy is right to be cautious about making sure whatever is done in this Congress is more in accord with the very careful approach of 1973 and ’74,” Clinton said, referring to the Nixon impeachment proceedings. “You don’t put impeachment on the table as the only item on the table. ... Instead, you say, ‘We are going to proceed with the seriousness this demands.’”