Sen. Mike Lee says impeaching Trump would be 'huge mistake' for Democrats

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SALT LAKE CITY — With Democrats ramping up talk of impeaching President Donald Trump, Utah Sen. Mike Lee says it would be a "huge mistake" for the House to go down that path.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has taken a go-slow approach to impeachment as Democrats have opened several investigations into the Trump administration. Trump has vowed not to work with Democrats, even on shared priorities, if the investigations continue.

Pelosi said Trump is trying to goad congressional Democrats into starting impeachment proceedings. She said he is "crying out for impeachment" but Democrats are not going that direction.

"We can get the facts to the American people through our investigation. It may take us to a place that is unavoidable in terms of impeachment or not," she told reporters in Washington. "But we're not at that place."

At an online townhall meeting Wednesday night, a caller asked Lee: "If the House impeaches the president, will you do the right thing and kick him out of office?"

"I will vote against impeaching the president. I’m not aware of any impeachable offenses that he has committed, so no, heavens no. I’m not going to vote to remove someone who I don’t believe has done anything impeachable," he said.

Lee, R-Utah, said there's no basis to impeach Trump.

"I think it would be huge mistake, not just for our political system, not just for our representative constitutional republic but I think it would be a huge mistake for them politically," he said.

If the House were to impeach Trump, it's not going to work because there's no way that two-thirds of the Senate would vote to remove him from office, Lee said.

"There’s not a forseeable, imaginable circumstance in which 67 senators are going to vote to remove this president, certainly not in the absence of an impeachable offense," he said. "I’m not going to vote for it and I think it would be wrong."

After Lee's answer, the caller followed up with, "Have you actually read the Mueller report? Sounds like you have not."

Lee assured him that he has read special counsel Robert Mueller's report that concluded Trump did not collude with the Russians to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Attorney General William Barr has chosen not to pursue obstruction of justice charges against the president.

Another caller asked Lee if Trump's vow not to work with Democrats is obstruction of justice.

Lee said he hasn't reviewed the president's statement.

"What I hear of it, it's not how I would have handled it. It's not something I would likely have said, but I don't know of any reason to believe that that amounted to obstruction of justice," he said.

Last Saturday, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash was the first Republican to accuse Trump of "impeachable conduct" based on Mueller's findings.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, called it a "courageous statement," but said Amash has reached a different conclusion than he has.

"I do not think impeachment is the right way to go," Romney said Sunday during an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union."

"I just don’t think there is the full element you need to prove an obstruction of justice case," Romney said. "I don’t think a prosecutor would actually look at this and say you have here all the elements to get this to a conviction."

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Dennis Romboy
Dennis Romboy is an editor and reporter for the Deseret News. He has covered a variety of beats over the years, including state and local government, social issues and courts. A Utah native, Romboy earned a degree in journalism from the University of Utah. He enjoys cycling, snowboarding and running.


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