(CNSNews.com) – Democrats did not come to Congress to impeach President Donald Trump. They came to Congress to work with him to get things done, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told “Fox News Sunday.”
Asked whether the Democrats would have a stronger case against Trump if they hadn’t been talking about impeaching the president almost since the day he took office,, Jeffries said, “I disagree with that premise, and as it relates to this impeachment inquiry that we're in right now, we are here reluctantly.”
“The impeachment of a president is not something that we came to Congress to do. We came to Congress to get things done, to work with this president to drive down the high cost of life-saving prescription drugs, and we hope to be able to pass a bill in the House over the next three weeks that would do that,” he said.
“We've actually indicated that we want to work with President Trump to fix our crumbling bridges, roads, tunnels, airports and mass transportation system, and to work with him on a re-negotiated NAFTA agreement. We've been clear about that from the very beginning,” Jeffries added.
“Excuse me, Congressman, but I mean, the fact is, almost since he took office -- first it was collusion with the Russians, the Mueller report -- that it couldn't make a case there -- obstruction, which Democrats still believe is the case; now Ukraine. There's been an awful lot about investigating the president, impeaching the president, removing the president, since he took the oath of office,” host Chris Wallace said.
“Well, the House is a separate and co-equal branch of government. We don't work for this president or any president. We work for the American people. We do have a constitutional responsibility to serve as a check and balance on a potentially out-of-control executive branch,” Jeffries said.
“That is not the Democratic Party playbook. That, in fact, is the James Madison playbook. Madison indicated that the House should serve as a rival to the executive branch because the Founders didn't want a king, they didn't want a dictator, they didn't want a monarch. They wanted a democracy,” he said.
“So, we do have a responsibility to defend our democracy. We're here at this moment right now because the president decided to pressure a foreign government to target an American citizen for political gain, and at the same time withhold $391 million in military aid from a very vulnerable Ukraine, which is an ally to the United States and is still at war with Russian-backed separatists in Crimea. That's why we are at this moment, Chris,” Jeffries added.
Wallace pointed to recent polling that suggests ‘the public isn’t buying” impeachment at this point.
“But, Congressman, Democrats have been making that case. You've been making your best case to the public for two months now. You just finished 30 hours of televised hearings, 12 witnesses, and the public apparently isn't buying it at this point. I want to put up a recent poll,” he said.
“Back in early October, people approved of impeaching and removing the president by a margin of 52 percent to 46. Now, after you have presented your evidence, it's 48 percent for and 50 percent against. And, you know, while you could argue that those are well within the margin of error, it's clear that there is none of the bipartisan support that Speaker Pelosi said for months was essential to impeachment," Wallace added.
“Well, the most recent poll that I saw actually had 50 percent of the American people supporting the impeachment inquiry and the potential removal of the president; 43 opposed. More significantly, I think 70 percent of the American people indicated that the president did something wrong. That said, our job is to follow the facts, apply the law, be guided by the U.S. Constitution, and present the truth to the American people no matter where it leads, because no one is above the law. That's what we have been doing. That's what we are doing. That's what we're going to continue to do, moving forward,” he said.