One day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Donald Trump is “goading us to impeach him,” the president's erstwhile confidant Chris Christie basically dared Democrats to do just that.
Interviewed Wednesday at the SALT Conference in Las Vegas alongside former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Christie, who endorsed Trump in 2016 after dropping his own presidential bid, said Democrats could seek to impeach Trump but know it would be “politically stupid.”
“If they want to do it, game on. If they want to do it, go ahead and do it, but stop skirting around the edges and acting as if you may do, but you may not do it and try to make a political point out of it,” Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, said. “Either do it or don’t, otherwise, let’s have a political election in 2020 and people can decide these issues then.”
The Trump White House has defied congressional subpoenas seeking a full, unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference in the 2016 presidential election. The House Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over the report. “We are now in a constitutional crisis,” said Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.
“It sounds like he’s asking us to impeach him,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, said last week. “He puts us in a position where we at least have to look at it.”
Pelosi echoed that remark Tuesday.
“Trump is goading us to impeach him,” Pelosi said at an event sponsored by Cornell University’s Institute of Politics and Global Affairs. “That’s what he’s doing. Every single day, he’s just like taunting, taunting, taunting.
“He knows that it would be very divisive in the country,” she continued. “But he doesn’t really care. He just wants to solidify his base.”
Christie said Trump was within his rights to exert executive privilege over the Mueller report and in seeking to prevent his former White House counsel, Don McGahn, from testifying.
“I know a lot of people don’t like this, but he was elected president of the United States by the American people. They are the ultimate deciders on his truthfulness or untruthfulness, unless he’s brought before an impeachment hearing in the House of Representatives and a trial in the United States Senate, which the Democrats like to kind of skirt around because they know it’s politically stupid to do,” Christie said. “They just want to get around the edges of it and imply it but not do it, because, by the way, if they wanted to go back to the Don McGahn issue, if they wanted Don McGahn to testify, open an impeachment hearing. Then Don McGahn would have no basis not to come and testify.
“But they don’t want to do that because they’re afraid it would rebound on them the same way that it rebounded on Republicans when they did it to Bill Clinton.”
Sessions, who is entertaining the possibility of running once more for Senate in his home state of Alabama, praised William Barr, his successor at the Department of Justice, and portrayed the clash between the executive and legislative branches as nothing new.
“I don’t think we’re ... at a constitutional crisis yet and I don’t think very close to it,” Sessions said. “There’s been some squabbles between Congress and the Department of Justice and Cabinet agencies for years over all kinds of discovery questions, documents and that sort of thing.”
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