Rep. Schneider: 'It's way too early' to talk about impeaching Trump
Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield said it's "way too early" to talk about impeaching President Donald Trump.
Schneider's Republican challenger in the 10th Congressional District race, Deerfield computer consultant Doug Bennett, called impeachment by the U.S. House "a fool's errand." Voters can remove Trump from the Oval Office in 2020 if they so choose, Bennett said.
Schneider and Bennett spoke about the president and other issues in a joint interview with the Daily Herald.
Presidents may be removed for treason, bribery or other crimes, according to the Constitution. The U.S. House handles such procedures, as it did in 1998 with President Bill Clinton and in 1868 with President Andrew Johnson. Both were acquitted by the Senate.
Rumbling of a possible Trump impeachment grew last month after Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty in federal court to campaign finance violations. Cohen implicated Trump in a cover-up involving payoffs to women who said they had sexual relationships with the future president.
The conviction of Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, on federal financial crimes also fed the flames, as has special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation of the Trump campaign.
Schneider is seeking his third term in Congress. He won the post in 2012 by defeating Republican Bob Dold, but Dold reclaimed the job in 2014. Schneider won a rematch in 2016.
He has been highly critical of Trump, particularly in regards to the Russians' election interference, but he doesn't want to rush to impeachment.
Instead, he said, Congress needs to focus on protecting the Mueller investigation.
"It's way too early to be talking about impeachment," Schneider said. "We need to get to the truth."
Schneider praised Mueller's team for its lack of leaks to the media and for handling the investigation professionally.
"We need to let the investigation proceed to its conclusion and follow the facts where they lead," Schneider said. "And if that conclusion says that there was nothing untoward or illegal about the actions of the president or the administration or the campaign, so be it. And if it goes a different way, we'll address it at that time."
Bennett, the vice chairman of the West Deerfield Township Republican organization, is making his first run at Congress. He's unsuccessfully sought three lesser offices since 2012.
When asked if he would vote to impeach Trump, Bennett quickly responded "No."
"It's a fool's errand," Bennett said.
Congress has never removed a president from office, Bennett said, and he doubts it'll happen to Trump.
"An impeachment hearing would take 18 months, and by the time we're there we'll be back at the next election," Bennett said. "It would be really embarrassing to impeach a president in August and have him re-elected two months later."
Bennett said the American people already have the power to unseat a president through elections.
"I would let the American people decide and not take that away from them," he said.
The 10th District includes parts of Cook and Lake counties.
Daily Herald news services contributed to this report.