A top U.S. Republican lawmaker predicted Sunday that if opposition Democrats in the House of Representatives try to impeach President Donald Trump, the president will be re-elected next year and Republicans will retake control of the House.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, an ally of Trump's, told "Fox News Sunday" that if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democratic-controlled lower chamber, permits an impeachment inquiry to start, "it would be suicide for the Democratic Party."
Graham said Pelosi's "job is very much on the line," depending on whether she eventually relents on allowing an impeachment hearing to open.
About three dozen Democrats and a lone Republican in the 435-member House have called for impeachment hearings to start against Trump, to consider whether he obstructed justice by trying to thwart special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian intrusion in the 2016 U.S. presidential election that Trump won. Even if the House were to impeach Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate is highly unlikely to remove him from office.
So far, Pelosi has resisted calls to start an impeachment inquiry, instead opting to continue several House committee investigations of Trump's finances, taxes and actions he took during his 28-month presidency to try to end the Mueller probe or curb its scope. But she said last week that Trump has been engaging "in a cover-up" by refusing to cooperate with the Democratic-led investigations.
She said the House investigations "may take us to impeachment," but that currently "we are not at that place."
Trump pointedly rejected her "cover-up" claim, saying, "I don't do cover-ups." At a brief White House meeting, Trump refused to negotiate with Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer over policy issues while the House investigations continue.
"You can't do it under these circumstances," he said. "What they've done is abuse. Let them play their games."
Mueller concluded that Trump did not collude with Russia to help him win, but outlined 11 possible times he engaged in obstructive behavior, while not reaching a conclusion whether he should face criminal charges. Subsequently, Attorney General William Barr and then Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided criminal charges were not warranted against Trump.
Trump has encouraged a counter-investigation by Barr, his appointee as the country's top law enforcement officer, as he has started a probe into the origins of the Russia probe. Trump gave Barr full authority to declassify intelligence information that led to the start of the investigation of Russian meddling in the election and eventually the Mueller probe.
Before leaving Washington for a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said, "They will be able to see... how the hoax or witch hunt started and why it started. It was an attempted coup or an attempted takedown of the president of the United States."
He claimed, "There's word and rumor that the FBI and others were involved, CIA were involved with the [United Kingdom], having to do with the Russian hoax. We're exposing everything."
Several Democratic lawmakers and former intelligence community officials have attacked Trump for telling Barr he is free to release whatever information he decides to.
But Graham said that does not worry him. "I support Attorney General Barr to make this as transparent as possible," he said.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, from Tokyo on Trump's visit, told NBC, "We already know there was an outrageous amount of corruption at the Justice Department."
She said Trump wants "to get to the bottom of what happened."