The Note: Democrats face 2020 pressures on impeachment

Democrats begin grappling with some complicated new questions.

April 22, 2019, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

"Far worse than anything that Richard Nixon did," "more significant than Watergate" and "without question within the realm of impeachable offenses."

That's just some of what House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said of what's now known about President Donald Trump's conduct on ABC's "This Week," on Sunday.

But actually pursuing impeachment in the wake of Robert Mueller's report is a different question entirely. House Democrats begin grappling with some complicated new questions on Monday, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi convening a conference call to address what she is calling the "grave matter" at hand.

Pelosi, Schiff and others have new 2020 pressures to contend with. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro are among those calling for Congress to take a stand.

As a practical matter, with no Justice Department charges against the president and with no Republican support for removing the president, Trump will likely stay in office.

But pursuing impeachment, or a kind of "impeachment-lite" of investigations, without the formality of articles of impeachment, could provide value to the presidential candidates, even if they know how the story is almost certain to end.

Rep. Adam Schiff speaks to a reporter after a news conference in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, April 2, 2019 in Washington, D.C.
Alex Wong/Getty Images, FILE

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

The president says the Mueller report exonerates him, but what about the Russians?

Regardless of the president's actions, special counsel Robert Mueller's team argued the Russians engaged in "information warfare" against the U.S.

Last summer, Trump said he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin's denial on the matter. He will now, in a post-Mueller-report world, face more questions about whether his mind has been changed.

On Sunday, the president's personal lawyer said that while he would advise against taking information from the foreign power, "There's nothing wrong with taking information from Russians," adding that it's not a crime.

Rudy Giuliani said that Trump is "angry at the Russians for interfering in the election," but that he is "angrier" at Democrats and members of law enforcement who, Giuliani claimed, "tried to take away his presidency."

As both a candidate up for re-election as well as the current commander in chief, the president will likely be forced to explain, rather soon, his foreign policy when it comes to Russia, and if what made him angry is worth any action.

President Donald Trump attends an event recognizing the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride in the East Room of the White House, April 18, 2019.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The TIP with Lissette Rodriguez and Armando Garcia

Just days ago, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was among the first presidential candidates to tell reporters in New Hampshire she believes Trump should face impeachment proceedings following the release of the Mueller report.

"For me this is not about politics, there are some decisions that are bigger than politics," Warren said.

Now Warren, along with four other candidates -- Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg -- are set to take the stage in Manchester, New Hampshire, for back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back hour-long CNN town halls Monday night at an event co-hosted by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College and the Institute of Politics at Harvard's Kennedy School.

Although the focus of the event is to address issues important to young voters, the question of whether or not the House of Representatives should begin impeachment proceedings is certain to be asked of the participants -- and it could be good for a few headlines.

Meanwhile, for a candidate like Sanders, a town hall in New Hampshire will be a sort of homecoming, as it is an early primary state he won over Hillary Clinton in 2016 by more than 20 percentage points. However, Clinton went on to win the state by less than a point.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Monday morning's episode features ABC News' David Wright, who has more on the series of explosions in Sri Lanka that killed almost 300 people. ABC News Political Director Rick Klein explains why Nancy Pelosi may be giving a "safety valve" to 2020 Democratic presidential candidates when it comes to the impeachment issue. Then ABC News' Patrick Reevell explains how a comedian just became the next president of Ukraine.


  • President Donald Trump hosts the annual White House Easter egg roll at 10:30 a.m. EDT.
  • Presidential hopeful Sen. Cory Booker will discuss environmental justice on Earth Day at a joint event with Mayor Eric Garcetti in Los Angeles.
  • Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang will continue his Humanity First Tour with supporters in Los Angeles at 9 p.m. EDT.
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