Top House Dem Clyburn says he believes chamber eventually will impeach Trump

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By Allan Smith  with NBC News Politics
Image: James Clyburn
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., walks to a closed Democratic Caucus meeting on Capitol Hill on Jan. 4, 2019.   -   Copyright  Carolyn Kaster AP file

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., said Sunday he believes President Donald Trump will eventually be impeached by the House.

"Yes, exactly what I feel," Clyburn, one of the highest ranking House Democrats, told CNN's "State of the Union" when asked about the issue. "I think we have already begun."

Clyburn mentioned the work of multiple House committees investigating the president and court cases House Democrats have initially won against the administration in battles to obtain documents.

"Right now, we are winning this issue," he said. "Why should we go out and make missteps and cause us to lose a court decision that will have people saying, 'Why didn't you take your time? Why did you get out in front of this?' It's kind of interesting to me, as I talk to people, when you ask them what they think we ought to do, they agree with what we're doing. It's just that, emotionally, they would like to see something done and see it done quicker. But people want us to be effective in what we do."

Clyburn said special counsel Robert Mueller "has developed the grounds for impeachment," adding that the House "has to determine the timing for impeachment. There's a big difference."

The South Carolina Democrat said the public needs to understand the necessity of impeachment before it moves forward.

"We think that we have to bring the public along," he said. "We aren't particularly interested in the Senate. We do believe that, if we sufficiently, effectively educate the public, then we will have done our job, and we can move on an impeachment vote, and it will stand, and maybe it will be what needs to be done to [incentivize] the Senate to act."

"So we aren't waiting on the Senate," he said, adding that House Democrats are trying to make sure the public understands exactly what they are doing and why they're doing it so that "people won't misinterpret this as being a political move on our part."

"We believe that, if we do it efficiently and effectively, it will be one that the public will understand and will support," he continued. "If the public ever feels that we are being political with this, we will have done a tremendous harm to the country, to the Constitution, and to the people that we are sworn to serve."