Top Democrats in the House said Sunday their party will proceed with articles of impeachment against the president without any of their Republican colleagues joining them, arguing public opinion is on their side.
House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat, admitted being unsure of whether President Trump committed a high crime or misdemeanor worthy of impeachment at this point. But he stood by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s inquiry, saying her words about the need for bipartisan support referred to a consensus across the country — not in Congress — when deciding whether impeach Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump, though, and his Republican colleagues are demanding due process, calling for public testimony from the whistleblower who accused the president of abusing his powers for domestic political purposes in his dealings with Ukraine.
Recent polling shows the public is sharply divided over whether the president should be impeached for his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Mr. Trump requested a corruption probe into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son’s lucrative position with a Ukrainian energy company.
“There’s a lot of smoke that a lot of us see. There should be some fire somewhere and we should find the source of that fire,” Mr. Clyburn told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
“This country is worth saving,” he added.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted last week revealed 49% of respondents support impeachment and removal from office, while 46% opposed.
Rep. Eliot Engel echoed his colleague, telling ABC’s “This Week” impeachment is about the president’s action — not bipartisanship.
“Congress is there to prevent the president from doing things that are illegal,” the New York Democrat said Sunday, elaborating that withholding duly-appropriated aid to Ukraine to force the Eastern European country to investigate a domestic political rival is illegal.
But House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican, pushed back, saying the law requires the president to ensure tax dollars won’t be going to a foreign country and subsequently used for corruption.
Mr. Scalise also said the Ukrainian president wasn’t initially aware that aid was even being withheld.
Republicans want to call the person who initially complained about the president’s July phone call to testify, saying investigators have determined the whistleblower had potential political conflicts of interest, reportedly having worked for Mr. Biden.
“There are a lot of questions that haven’t been answered,” Mr. Scalise told ABC.
The top House Republican, meanwhile, told “Face the Nation” that Rep. Adam B. Schiff, the California Democrat who chairs the House committee that is handling the impeachment probe, has made himself a witness, the judge and the jury in this inquiry.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy said on the CBS program that Mr. Schiff, like the whistleblower, must answer questions.
“The very first person we should bring is Adam Schiff and his staff,” the California Republican said Sunday. “He is the only person who knows who this whistleblower is. He refers to himself as a Ken Starr. Ken Starr testified.”
Mr. McCarthy said there are reports Mr. Schiff’s staff counseled the whistleblower.
Mark Zaid, the attorney representing the whistleblower, tweeted Sunday that his client would be willing to answer questions from Republican lawmakers in writing, under oath.
But the Republican House leader said he is not aware of the whistleblower offering to answer questions from Republican lawmakers in writing.
“The whistleblower should come forward in an open hearing,” Mr. McCarthy said.
Mr. Trump, though, countered Sunday the whistleblower has no credibility because he’s an “Obama guy.”
The president told reporters he’s heard the whistleblower is a male, but wouldn’t say whether he is considering disclosing the individual’s name on Twitter.
“If he’s the whistleblower, he has no credibility because he’s a Brennan guy, he’s a Susan Rice guy, he’s an Obama guy and he hates Trump, and he’s a radical. Now, maybe it’s not him but, if it’s him, you guys ought to release the information,” Mr. Trump said.