Klobuchar says impeachment probe has uncovered a 'global Watergate'

Image: Sen. Amy Klobuchar appears on "Meet The Press" on Dec. 1, 2019.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar appears on "Meet The Press" on Dec. 1, 2019. Copyright NBC News
By Ben Kamisar with NBC News Politics
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The Democratic presidential candidate told NBC's "Meet the Press" that Congress has an obligation to move forward with impeachment.


WASHINGTON — Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said Sunday that Congress has an obligation to move forward with impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump regardless of public opinion, arguing that the House inquiry has uncovered a "global Watergate."

In an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press," the Democratic presidential candidate said the evidence unveiled thus far fits the definition of what the nation's founders envisioned for impeachable offenses.

"James Madison said that the reason we needed impeachment provisions is that he feared that a president would betray the trust of the American people to a foreign power," she said.

"I see it simply as a global Watergate. Back then, you had a president in Richard Nixon who was paranoid and he delegated to some people to go break into the headquarters and get into a file cabinet to get dirt on a political opponent. That's basically what this president has done on a global basis," she said.

She went on to say that she's likely to vote in favor of removing the president from office if articles of impeachment were to reach the Senate. Asked if she could vote to acquit the president, Klobuchar responded, "I can't see that happening right now, but I am someone that looks at each count and makes a decision. I've said from the beginning, I see this as impeachable conduct."

Klobuchar's comments come after the House heard two weeks of public testimony during which a series of current and former administration officials described a pressure campaign aimed at withholding military assistance in order to compel Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son's work with a Ukrainian energy company.

But her Senate Judiciary Committee colleague, Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy, accused House Democrats of stifling the president's due process rights during the impeachment process.

"Rounds one and two by Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Schiff were as rigged as a carnival ring toss," Kennedy said, referring in part to House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff.

"Have they allowed the president to call his own witnesses? No. Have they allowed him to have his lawyer present? No. Have they allowed him to offer rebuttal evidence? No. Have they allowed him to cross-examine the witnesses who were hand-picked by Speaker Pelosi?"

House Democrats primarily controlled the process at the the Intelligence Committee's public hearings, which frustrated Republicans who wanted to call other witnesses including Hunter Biden, the former vice president's son.

Kennedy also repeated claims, reportedly disputed by U.S. intelligence agencies, that while Russia's 2016 election interference was "more aggressive," Ukrainian leaders did try to put their thumbs on the scales of that election too.

During her impeachment testimony, former White House official Fiona Hill warned Republicans against creating an equivalency between the negative comments by some Ukrainian officials about Trump and the broad interference backed by the Russian government. "I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative that the Ukrainian government is a U.S. adversary, and that Ukraine — not Russia — attacked us in 2016," she said.

With the news that the House Intelligence Committee will be moving forward on its impeachment report this week, polling shows that the public remains largely divided over the matter.

Klobuchar said that Congress' "first obligation is the constitutional one," regardless of public opinion.

And she pointed to Democratic wins in Kentucky's recent governor's race, as well as the Democratic victories in Virginia that turned the state legislature blue, as proof the electorate wants a check on Trump.

"Yes, it's a public trial and the public will be able to see more and reach their own decisions. But at the end, it's a constitutional obligation," she said.

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