Harry Reid now backs Trump impeachment inquiry

'It's not the right thing to do nothing,' he says

By Caroline Kelly, CNN
Alex Wong/Getty Images

(CNN) - Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has reversed course and now says the House of Representatives should open an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump -- and that he has told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"It's not the right thing to do nothing," the Nevada Democrat told USA Today in an interview published Monday, adding, "It's not the right thing to jump into impeachment without doing an inquiry."

The inquiry's paramount objective would be to "give the American people a view of what's going on," he added.

Reid had repeatedly dismissed calls for impeachment, even as recently as last month. His change of heart comes as Pelosi faces rising pressure to begin impeachment proceedings, with over 50 House Democrats and many 2020 candidates already backing an inquiry. While an inquiry wouldn't necessarily result in a vote to impeach the President, Pelosi has stood firm in her stance that lawmakers have more investigating to do before invoking the articles of impeachment.

Reid acknowledged the political risks of initiating impeachment proceedings, both in ginning up opposition support in upcoming elections -- which he witnessed firsthand during then-President Bill Clinton's impeachment proceedings -- and in depending on a Republican-led Senate unlikely to budge. But he stood by his support for an inquiry.

"That has been one of the big arguments against the impeachment. Why make Trump a hero by saying, 'They couldn't impeach me'?" Reid said, calling that "all the more reason why the inquiry is the right thing to do."

Reid also told USA Today on Monday that he would communicate his thoughts to Pelosi, and a spokesman of his told the paper Tuesday that Reid had spoken with the California Democrat's office.

Characterizing Republicans as "going arm-in-arm with Trump, right over the cliff," Reid argued that a thorough inquiry into whether the President had tried to obstruct special counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry and into other allegations would serve as an effective bellwether of public sentiment.

"I think that that's one reason an inquiry should go forward, to find out how the public reacts to this," he said.

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.