CNN's Jake Tapper Challenges Rep. Brad Sherman On Impeachment: "That's Not How This All Works"


CNN's Jake Tapper debates Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman about potential grounds for impeachment against President Trump.

Sherman said he believes President Trump has committed "several felonies" including "obstruction of justice on at least two occasions, probably three."

"All right," Tapper replied. "Well, that's your opinion, but no legal source, no legal entity has said that he is guilty of obstruction of justice."

"No legal entity has said to the contrary," Sherman replied back. "There's not one legal entity that said that his firing of Comey was not a violation of 1512B3."

"That's not how this all works. Well, it doesn't work like, well, there's -- I say there needs to be a legal finding and you say, well, there isn't a legal finding that he didn't do the crime," CNN's Tapper said.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN: Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman of California. He introduced the articles of impeachment against President Trump back in 2017.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

Speaker Pelosi is arguing, quote, "impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there's something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don't think we should go down that path," unquote.

You disagree. Why?

REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, first, he met the legal standard. He's committed several felonies including --


SHERMAN: -- including violation of 1512B3 of the Criminal Code, obstruction of justice on at least two occasions, probably three. And that's just in his first six months.

TAPPER: All right. Well, that's your opinion, but no legal source, no legal entity has said that he is guilty of obstruction of justice.

SHERMAN: No legal entity has said to the contrary. In fact, there are numerous scholarly articles that take a look at what he did on the record, compare it to the code and say this is a violation of code. But the question isn't just whether he violated the legal standard. The question is, do we have the political support?

Now, I was part of starting the ball rolling in terms of talking about impeachment and if we hadn't talked about impeachment, imagine what this president would have done if he thought he was immune. He certainly would have fired Mueller. He certainly would have done, god knows what, right crossed his mind.

TAPPER: Right --

SHERMAN: So, we need to go down the road part of the way and talk about impeachment. But we're not going to remove him from office until we get more public support. And that -- that probably isn't going to happen until we develop more facts. That's one of the reasons we need to investigate.

TAPPER: But you've called for -- you called for impeaching him in 2017. So, you're way ahead of the idea that you need to have more facts, right?

SHERMAN: The -- you don't have to wait to you know every felony the president is committed.

TAPPER: Again, sir, with all due respect, you keep saying that he's committed felonies. There's not one legal entity that has said he committed felonies and saying there's --

SHERMAN: There's not one legal entity that said that his firing of Comey was not a violation of 1512B3.

TAPPER: That's not how this all works. Well, it doesn't work like, well, there's -- I say there needs to be a legal finding and you say, well, there isn't a legal finding that he didn't do the crime.

SHERMAN: There's no body other than the House of Representatives that can make that. You can't say, well, the courts determined that he didn't, you can't say that the courts determined he did. The courts will not have jurisdiction. Only the House of Representatives has jurisdiction. And the last Congress wouldn't give it serious consideration and wouldn't even develop the facts.

Now, we're doing the investigation. That may deliver enough facts not only to show that he's violated the law but to generate the public support for going forward with removal.

TAPPER: Right --

SHERMAN: Until we have much more public support, we're not going to be able to remove him from office.

TAPPER: Well, that's certainly true because there is public support for investigating the president, but there is not public support at all, even close to impeaching him or removing him from office.

SHERMAN: We're at 15 percent in some of the polls for removing him from office, but it's going to take two-thirds of the United States Senate, which means it would take at least two-thirds of the American people to get Republican senators on board in large numbers.

TAPPER: Well, let's talk about that because: do you support the idea of going forward with impeachment even while Republicans control the Senate?

SHERMAN: We went forward with impeachment when we needed Republican votes to impeach Richard Nixon. It's when you can generate the public support, you can go forward and remove a president who's guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors.

TAPPER: Needing Republican votes is not the same thing as a Republican Senate. I mean, there was, as you know -- that was during the Nixon impeachment, that was a Democratic Senate. Yes, you needed Republican votes. This is a Republican Senate.

Wouldn't it be a loser because it's this is what this is what Nancy Pelosi seems to be saying in a lot of your colleagues, that even if you impeach the president in the House, it's not going anywhere in the Senate, and so, it would cause a whole bunch of further divisive action. This is according to Speaker Pelosi, and you wouldn't even get the result you want.

SHERMAN: Well, first of all, I think Richard Nixon would had been impeached even if there were five, 10, 15 more Republican senators. Second, I do not think the trunk would be removed from office by this United States Senate until we get public opinion on our side and that is probably going to require more facts whether they come from Mueller, whether they come from House investigations we need to give the American people more information and if we do and we generate the level of support for impeachment that we saw in 1974, we will be able to remove this president.

But even if we don't remove the president, at least letting him know as Senator Graham did back in 2017, that if he crosses certain lines, he is indeed subject to impeachment, will act as a way to confine the harm he does to our country.

TAPPER: Last question, sir, don't you think that by filing articles of impeachment in the House in 2017, coming out and talking about it strongly now today, even before the Mueller report has dropped, even before the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee's reports have come out, don't you think you're undermining the case that you're trying to make to the American people in that you're already getting out there and saying, I want him impeached now even before the facts come in, making it look very political?

SHERMAN: Well, it's hard for an elected official in Washington, D.C. not to be called political, but the fact is you do not have to wait to you can identify all the felonies a president has committed in order to impeach for the felonies that are already on the record.

And he on the record threatened Mueller, if Mueller look at his finances. We see the testimony of Comey, I was there at for every minute of it, where he testified under oath to the United States Senate about how he was threatened in order to prevent him for going forward with the investigation of Flynn. So, the felonies are there.

Whether they -- whether we have public opinion on our side, I don't think we're there yet. But we reached the legal standard long ago.

OK, just as a point of fact and I appreciate your coming here, you keep asserting that the president has committed felonies, and I will just keep saying that's your opinion but zero legal entities have found the president guilty of felonies.

SHERMAN: Zero legal entities have considered the issue. That's why you have to -- why on scholarship and legal analysis, which I've published, which others have published, to reach that conclusion. There is no higher authority available to us than the legal analysis that's been published. No court has considered the matter, nor can they, and the House has not considered the matter either.

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