WASHINGTON – Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Democrats to proceed with caution when it comes to the possibility of impeaching President Donald Trump in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller's report.
In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Clinton, the former Democratic nominee who ran against Trump in the 2016 presidential race, wrote that Mueller's findings detailed an assault on the U.S. and a "serious crime against the American people" but said it's foolish to believe Democrats only have two choices on how to hold President Donald Trump accountable: immediately impeach or do nothing.
"Obviously, this is personal for me, and some may say that I’m not the right messenger. But my perspective is not just that of a former candidate and target of the Russian plot," Clinton wrote, touching on private emails stolen from her and the Democratic Party during the 2016 election by Russians. "Our election was corrupted, our democracy assaulted, our sovereignty and security violated."
She goes on to describe her experience as the first lady during impeachment proceedings aimed at her husband, President Bill Clinton, her experience as an attorney for the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate hearings against President Richard Nixon and as a senator in New York during the 9/11 terror attacks.
Clinton wrote it wouldn't be wise to rush into impeaching Trump and instead, Democrats in the House should focus on holding "substantive hearings that build on the Mueller report and fill in its gaps" while also focusing on key issues that affect Americans across the country. She suggested that Congress could create a bipartisan commission to examine ways to protect U.S. elections from foreign actors.
"What our country needs now is clear-eyed patriotism, not reflexive partisanship," Clinton wrote, noting what went right and wrong during previous impeachment proceedings against President Clinton and President Nixon.
Mueller reported across 448 pages about "sweeping and systematic" Russian efforts to benefit Trump in the 2016 election and campaign aides eager for the help, though it ultimately found no conspiracy between Americans and Russians. Mueller also found Trump tried repeatedly to thwart the inquiry but declined to decide whether that was a crime. Attorney General William Barr and others in the Justice Department later said there wasn't enough evidence for obstruction-of-justice charges.
Since the release of Mueller's report, Democrats have latched onto its findings to explain their rationale for continuing their investigations and some have debated whether the report should be used to start impeachment proceedings. Leaders in the House have expressed a similar notion of proceeding with caution due to the divisiveness of impeachment and what effects it could have on the country.
Clinton wrote that Mueller's report was a "road map" and, "it’s up to members of both parties to see where that road map leads — to the eventual filing of articles of impeachment, or not."
While urging caution, Clinton said it's important that both Russia and Trump is held accountable for the behavior outlined in Mueller's report, which she called a "warning about the future." She wrote that if that doesn't happen, Russia along with other foreign actors would likely attempt to meddle in future elections.
And when it comes to Trump, Clinton alleged that, "unless he’s held accountable, the president may show even more disregard for the laws of the land and the obligations of his office. He will likely redouble his efforts to advance Putin’s agenda, including rolling back sanctions, weakening NATO and undermining the European Union."
"A crime was committed against all Americans, and all Americans should demand action and accountability," Clinton wrote. "Our founders envisioned the danger we face today and designed a system to meet it. Now it’s up to us to prove the wisdom of our Constitution, the resilience of our democracy and the strength of our nation."
Contributing: Bart Jansen
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'This is personal for me': Hillary Clinton urges caution on Trump impeachment