Top Democrat says Trump impeachment is 'off the table until it's on the table'

Hunter Walker
White House Correspondent

NEW YORK — Top House Democrat Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told Yahoo News that pursuing the impeachment of President Trump is “extremely premature,” but there is still a possibility Democrats could seek to oust the president.

“It’s off the table until it’s on the table. And at the moment it’s off the table,” Jeffries said.

Jeffries echoed what he has said in the past, which is that he has agreed with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s assessment of what would be necessary to move forward with impeachment proceedings.

“As Speaker Pelosi has indicated, we should only go down that road if the case is compelling, the evidence is overwhelming, and the public sentiment around impeachment is bipartisan in nature,” Jeffries said. “Those conditions don’t exist right now.”

Yahoo News spoke on Friday by phone with Jeffries, the fifth-highest-ranking House Democrat, shortly after he delivered a blistering speech in which he cited some of the close Trump associates who are facing jail time after special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Jeffries compared their situation to the Biblical story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, three men thrown into a furnace on a king’s order when they refused to worship a false idol. “Sometimes you’ve got such an arrogant, narcissistic, self-centered, out of control ruler that the people closest to him are the first ones to go down in flames,” Jeffries said.

Jeffries went on to shout the names of top Trump campaign aides who were charged as part of Mueller’s probe.

Late last month, Trump declared himself exonerated after Attorney General William Barr released a letter summarizing Mueller’s report. According to Barr, Mueller did not find evidence Trump’s campaign team had colluded with Russian attempts to interfere with the election and declined to make a decision whether the president should be charged with obstruction of justice. Reports have since emerged that Mueller prepared his own public statement on his conclusions and that members of the special counsel’s team were frustrated with Barr’s summary.

Jeffries blasted Barr’s letter and said House Democrats will “do everything possible within the law” to ensure Mueller’s full report is released publicly.

“The Barr letter seems to me to be a complete and total fraud, and recent reports that public summaries had been prepared by the Mueller team for the American people only provide further evidence that we need to get a full and complete understanding of the work that the Mueller team did,” Jeffries said in the interview with Yahoo News.

Jeffries argued Trump is “hiding” Mueller’s report from the American people despite claiming that it vindicates him.

“This is a smoke and mirrors presidency,” Jeffries said.

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