Democratic leaders aim to put Trump on trial with 'slow-bleed' hearing strategy
House Democratic leaders could be hoping to use the routine mechanisms of Congress to effectively put President Trump on trial even as others in the party push for outright impeachment.
Leaders are planning to roll out a “slow-bleed strategy with lengthy public hearings and scores of witnesses to methodically pick apart Trump's finances and presidency,” according to Axios’ Mike Allen.
The president would “essentially be on public trial for months to come” under the plan being coordinated among as many as eight House committees, Axios reported.
Some of the areas Trump where could reportedly find himself under scrutiny include abuse of power, conflicts of interest, money laundering and obstruction of justice.
A House leadership source told Axios the push is designed to avoid giving Trump a boost in 2020 by going the impeachment route.
“Many in leadership believe impeachment could help Trump get re-elected,” the leadership source said.
“The last thing they want to do is help Trump.”
The report comes as Democratic leaders -- including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- have repeatedly appeared uncomfortable with directly calling for impeachment proceedings, despite some rank-and-file members pushing for it.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on Sunday he thinks a 2016 offer for dirt on Hillary Clinton by a Russian lawyer to members of the Trump campaign and the subsequent meeting is “direct evidence” of collusion on the part of the president’s team.
“They offer that dirt. There is an acceptance of that offer in writing from the president’s son, Don Jr., and there is overt acts and furtherance of that… That to me is direct evidence,” he told CBS’ “Face The Nation.”
However, The California lawmaker, who has been one of Trump’s fiercest critics, stopped short of calling for impeachment.
"That is something that we will have to await Bob Mueller's report and the underlying evidence to determine. We will also have to look at the whole body of improper and criminal actions by the president including those campaign finance crimes to determine whether they rise to the level of removal from office," Schiff said.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, who would oversee any impeachment proceedings against Trump, also did not directly mention impeachment when announcing he will submit more than 60 document requests to the White House and Justice.
“We will be issuing document requests to over 60 different people and individuals from the White House to the Department of Justice, Donald Trump, Jr., [Trump Organization CFO] Allen Weisselberg, to begin the investigations to present the case to the American people about obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power,” the New York Democrat said on ABC News' "This Week."
In response, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said on "This Week" that Nadler had "decided to impeach the president the day the president won the election."
"Listen to exactly what he said. He talks about impeachment before he even became chairman and then he says, 'you've got to persuade people to get there,'" McCarthy said. "There's nothing that the president did wrong."
The issue of impeachment has been a hot topic for Democrats since taking control of the House, with some seizing on a January report by BuzzFeed claiming Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie about the timing of discussions over a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow to publicly float the possibility. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office, though, sharply disputed the report.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, had called for Trump to leave office or face impeachment if the report was accurate.
“If the @BuzzFeed story is true, President Trump must resign or be impeached.”
Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., said the House should begin to “establish a record” of whether Trump “committed high crimes,” repeatedly hinting on Twitter at impeachment proceedings.
House Democrats, like Reps. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., and Al Green, D-Texas, on the first day of the new Congress, introduced articles of impeachment against the president.