Thursday in an interview with MSNBC's Craig Melvin, House Majority Whip James Clyburn declared that the obstruction of justice allegations against President Trump detailed in the Mueller report were "bigger than Watergate."
Clyburn said he would define the situation as a "confrontational crisis," but stopped short of calling for immediate impeachment proceedings.
"I think the president is calculating that if he pushes us to pull the trigger on an impeachment resolution supported by the party, he will then be able to point to the divisiveness that comes with that. We are aware of that and we won't be ordered into such activity," Clyburn said, pointing to the Southern District of New York investigation into Trump's finances as a potential trigger for impeachment."I know some of our supporters are a bit frustrated because they see things in black and white, but there are a lot of gray issues involved and that is where we have to be cognizant."
CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC: And Speaker Pelosi a short time ago echoed some of your House Democratic colleagues saying that we are in a constitutional crisis with these subpoena fights. Here is part of what she said:
QUESTION: Do you agree with chairman Nadler that the country is currently in a constitutional crisis?
HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: Yes, I do agree with Chairman Nadler because the administration has decided that they are not going to honor their oath of office.
MELVIN, MSNBC: So there is Speaker Pelosi. Meanwhile, you have Senator Mark Warner who says it is not a crisis, more of a constitutional confrontation. How would Congressman Clyburn define it?
REP. JAMES CLYBURN: I would define it as a confrontational crisis. That is exactly what it is. how's that for hair-splitting? The fact of the matter is we are in a crisis. Any time you have such divisions between the executive and legislative and looking for the judiciary to step in and moderate or navigate -- help us navigate through this, that is a crisis situation.
It may not be as big as a lot of the crises that we have had as a nation, but this is bigger than Watergate was. All you've got to do is look at this report and you know that but for his status as president of the United States, this president would have been indicted for obstruction of justice and there are 10 or 12 different instances in the Mueller report that indicate that. And so that to me is a crisis situation. I've studied history. I've taught history. I spend a lot of time researching history every day. Never has a country been in the place it has been today.
MELVIN: And last question. We'll be talking to authors of the Politico Playbook in a moment. Today they wrote that Trump seems to be daring Democrats to take the impeachment road. Is that how you see it? And if that is the case, if that is how you see it, then what is the way out?
CLYBURN: Well, exactly the way I see it. I think the president is calculating that if he pushes us to pull the trigger on an impeachment resolution supported by the party, he will then be able to point to the divisiveness that comes with that. We are aware of that and we won't be ordered into such activity. If things were to develop as we have just seen with his son now being subpoenaed, we have some other venues, judiciary venues up in New York seeking other things, it could very well be that the public will certainly -- will suddenly come over to the fact that we need to remove this distraction and then that would be the time for us to pursue an impeachment.
But until we get there, we ought to stay focused on our agenda and we'll have a big health care rollout next week that I think will pay for itself with the savings that we will be making in one area and in the spending in the other. And I know some of our supporters are a bit frustrated because they see things in black and white, but there are a lot of gray issues involved and that is where we have to be cognizant.