While the Mueller report conclusions fell short of Rep. Adam Schiff's, D-Calif., promise of provable conspiracy with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, the House Intelligence Committee chairman still calls the findings "far worse" than Watergate.
"The obstruction of justice, in particular, in this case is far worse than anything that Richard Nixon did – the break in by the Russians of Democratic institutions, a foreign adversary, far more significant than the plumbers breaking into the Democratic headquarters – so, yes, I would say in every way this is more significant than Watergate," Schiff told ABC News' "This Week."
While "Mueller made it abundantly clear he felt he could not indict the president," Rep. Schiff admitted, the special counsel's report gave a roadmap for Congress to pursue impeachment from the president's actions.
"The fact that a candidate for president and now president of the United States would not only not stand up and resist Russian interference in our election, but would welcome it, goes well beyond anything Nixon did," Schiff told anchor Martha Raddatz. "The fact that the president of the United States would take Putin's side over his own intelligence agencies, goes well beyond anything Richard Nixon did.
"So, yes, I think it is far more serious than Watergate."
Regardless of Rep. Schiff's own confidence, he remains skeptical impeachment would be the right political move for his party.
"We are, unfortunately, in an environment today where the GOP leadership, people like [Rep.] Kevin McCarthy [R-Calif.], are willing to carry the president's water no matter how corrupt or unethical or dishonest the president's conduct may be," Schiff told Raddatz. "And in those kind of circumstances, when [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell will not stand up to the president either, it means that an impeachment is likely to be unsuccessful.
"Now it may be that we undertake an impeachment nonetheless."
After years of aggressively pursing criminal charges against the Trump campaign, if not the president himself, only to be let down by the Mueller conclusions, Rep. Schiff is now preaching caution.
"I think what we're going to have to decide as a caucus is what is the best thing for the country," Schiff said. "Is the best thing for the country to take up an impeachment proceeding, because to do otherwise sends a message that this conduct is somehow compatible with office. Or is it in the best interest of the country not to take up an impeachment that we know will not be successful in the Senate because the Republican leadership will not do its duty?
"That's a very tough question and I think is one we ought not to make overnight."
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