House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said that impeachment "is destined for failure" without Republican support, while blasting the party as “the cult of the president’s personality" and stating that he is actually against "putting the country" through impeachment proceedings.
Schiff, on ABC News’ “This Week,” said that while he believes House Democrats could impeach the president, the move would likely fail, due to a lack of support from Republicans in the House and Senate.
"I think we're going to do what is right for the country, and at this point, the speaker has not reached the conclusion, and I haven't either that it's the best for the country to put us through an impeachment proceeding that we know will, is, destined for failure in the Senate," Schiff said.
Schiff added that the president's "conduct qualifies" as "high crimes and misdemeanors," but said: "at the same time, we have to recognize that the reality — that one party, the Republican Party, has turned itself into the cult of the president’s personality and is not likely to act consistent with its constitutional obligations."
Schiff added, however, that if Trump "continues to stonewall" Congress, and "demonstrate his unfitness for office," congressional Democrats could move forward.
"There may be little additional cost to going through that process, even if unsuccessful in the Senate," Schiff said. "But we're not there yet and I think if it is a close call, close calls go against putting the country through that."
Schiff’s comments come as rank-and-file congressional Democrats have ramped up their calls for impeachment, following a rare public statement by Special Counsel Robert Mueller last week, who announced it was “not an option” for his team of prosecutors to charge the president with a crime due to longstanding Justice Department policy.
Mueller detailed the findings in his probe, maintaining that there was “not sufficient evidence to charge a conspiracy” with regard to whether members of the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election.
But Mueller did not mince words on his inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice.
“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that,” Mueller said. “We did not determine whether the president did commit a crime.”
Mueller explained the longstanding Justice Department policy, which states that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime, and thus said “charging the president was not an option we could consider.”
Mueller added that “it would be unfair to accuse someone of a crime when there could be no court resolution of the charge.”
But Mueller said that while the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion blocks a president from indictment while in office, “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse the president of wrongdoing.”
Some on the left took that comment as a green light to ramp up talks about impeachment proceedings against the president.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., also compared Mueller's remarks to an "impeachment referral," and said, "We need to start impeachment proceedings. It's our constitutional obligation."
Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., who is also running for president, said now that Mueller's job is done, "Impeachment hearings should begin tomorrow."
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., whose committee would oversee impeachment proceedings, said that there "certainly is" justification to begin impeachment, but said it was critical to first gain the support fo the American people.
“Impeachment is a political act, and you cannot impeach a president if the American people will not support it,” said Nadler, D-N.Y. “The American people, right now, do not support it because they do not know the story. They don’t know the facts.”
Nadler added: “We have to get the facts out. We have to hold a series of hearings, we have to hold the investigations.”
But despite growing calls from rank-and-file Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has tread lightly on the topic, vowing to investigate allegations against the president, but stopping short of calling to begin impeachment proceedings.
Pelosi, this week, also said that Democrats “want to do what’s right and what gets results.”
“We’re legislating, we’re investigating and we’re litigating,” Pelosi said. “Everybody wants justice, everybody wants the president to be held accountable.”
But House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., despite Pelosi’s resistance to the idea, said Sunday he feels Democrats have “already begun” impeachment proceedings.
“We’ve got all these committees doing their work, we’re having hearings, we’ve already won two court cases and there are other cases that are still to be determined, so why should we get out in front of this process?” Clyburn said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“It’s kind of interesting to me when you talk to people and ask them what they think we ought to do,” he added. “They agree with what we’re doing, it’s just that, emotionally, they would like to see something done and see it done quicker.”
Trump, though, blasted the idea as a “scam.”
“I don’t see how they can,” Trump said Thursday. “It’s a dirty, filthy, disgusting word, impeach. It’s high crimes – there was no high crime. So how do you impeach?”
The White House also has ignored the discussion, and seized only on Mueller's move to announce the official conclusion of the Russia probe. Mueller, last week, said the investigation was officially complete, his office would close, and said he was resigning from the Justice Department to return to private life.
But even without launching official impeachment proceedings, congressional Democrats are leading several high-profile Trump-focused investigations. The House Judiciary Committee, which would oversee potential impeachment proceedings, is investigating the administration’s handling of Mueller’s report, and even voted to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt for defying a subpoena requiring that he turn over an unredacted version of Mueller’s report, and its underlying evidence and documents. The president, in turn, asserted executive privilege over the files in a bid to protect them from release.
Meanwhile, the House Intelligence Committee, Oversight Committee, Ways and Means Committee and Financial Services Committee are all investigating the president and have aggressively sought his financial statements and documents for their probes, as well as testimony from high-profile Trump administration officials.
Thus far, the White House has directed the officials to defy their subpoenas to appear before Congress, and the president has vowed to block “all” subpoenas.
But Republicans, like House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins, R-Ga., are shifting their focus to Barr’s review of the origins of the Russia investigation. Barr appointed U.S. attorney from Connecticut John Durham to lead an investigation into the FBI’s original Russia probe, and alleged misconduct related to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants, as well as the FBI’s use of informants against the Trump campaign in 2016.
“It’s time for us to find out how this started and go from there,” Collins said on “Fox News Sunday.”