- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 3, 2018

One of Hillary Clinton’s top aides raised the prospect of impeachment for President Trump on Wednesday but seemed grim about the prospects for Democrats in 2020 trying to unseat him outright, saying the party’s field will be “a bit of a circus.”

Philippe Reines, who was a key assistant in Mrs. Clinton’s two presidential campaigns and served her while she was in the Senate and State Department, said he expects Democrats to make big gains in congressional elections this year but is “bearish” on chances of stopping Mr. Trump’s re-election.

He said Mr. Trump has broken so many rules of politics that dozens of potential candidates could take a look at the 2020 race, but it’s not clear that any of them will be able to effectively battle the president.

“I think it’s going to be a bit of a circus in the Democratic Party. I think we all could name 30 people who might run,” Mr. Reines said at a forum with college students sponsored by the Washington Center.

He said winning control of the House this year could give Democrats the chance to derail Mr. Trump’s agenda and to pursue investigations against the administration, potentially ending with impeachment or his ouster.

Mr. Reines cheered those pushing for impeachment or using the 25th Amendment to oust him as incapacitated.

“I think the man has met the threshold, and that’s all that’s important,” he said.

Mr. Reines, who saw Mrs. Clinton’s electoral loss up close, said attacks on her campaign were misplaced.

He said she had trouble with the Rust Belt states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. He said Mrs. Clinton spent so much time campaigning that she “practically moved to Pennsylvania.”

Mr. Reines said her election loss can be tracked back to FBI Director James B. Comey’s July 2016 announcement that while Mrs. Clinton wouldn’t face criminal charges for emailing top-secret information on insecure systems, she was highly incompetent and should have known better.

Still, Mr. Reines said, every other Democrat would have done worse.

“I don’t think any Democrat would’ve beaten Donald Trump, aside from President Obama,” Mr. Reines said.

He said polls show that “1 out of 5 voters” who voted for Mr. Trump also voted for Mr. Obama and continued to approve of the job Mr. Obama was doing in office at the time.

Mr. Reines said even Vice President Joseph R. Biden would have been plagued by the same issues as Mrs. Clinton.

The top Democratic aide is supporting the removal of Mr. Trump while party leaders try to figure out a strategy.

“I think there’s no more important thing to do right now than get Donald Trump out of office as fast as possible,” said Mr. Reines.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, has tamped down on talk of impeachment, as has the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, who would be his party’s point man.

“Impeachment, it’s not something you ought to welcome. It’s not something you ought to be ready to — it’s not something you want,” Mr. Nadler told Politico last month.

But calls from top Democratic donors such as Tom Steyer, who is running commercials pushing for impeachment, is creating pressure for Democrats to react.

Rank-and-file House Democrats have drawn up articles of impeachment and forced an early vote last month. It was tabled on a 364-58 vote.

Impeachment aside, Mr. Reines said, Mr. Trump has been emboldened by his political successes, having defeated a massive field of Republican candidates and then overcome Mrs. Clinton.

The Clinton aide said that while voters say they don’t like Mr. Trump’s Twitter habit, it’s been remarkably effective.

“What he’s doing is very smart,” Mr. Reines said. “He’s just giving talking points straight to his people, which is really, really smart.”

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