Impeachment may be "the only remedy" should a recent whistleblower complaint against President Donald Trump prove true, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Sunday.
"I have been very reluctant to go down the path of impeachment, for the reason that I think the founders contemplated in a country that has elections every four years, that this would be an extraordinary remedy, a remedy of last resort, not first resort," the California Democrat said on CNN's "State of the Union."
"But if the president is essentially withholding military aid at the same time that he is trying to browbeat a foreign leader into doing something illicit that is providing dirt on his opponent during a presidential campaign, then that may be the only remedy that is coequal to the evil that that conduct represents," Schiff added.
His comments, following a series of reports that Trump pressed Ukrainian officials to investigate the son of 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, appear to be the most forceful Schiff has made on impeachment.
It's a matter that has sparked a chasm among Democrats, with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York pushing for an investigation and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California arguing the House Democrats lack the votes.
Last week, Nadler's panel held what it billed as its first “impeachment hearing” to question former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and Pelosi stressed in a private meeting that Democrats should be cautious as it decides whether to move forward.
Schiff's committee plans to hear from Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire on Thursday to "make sure we get that [whistleblower] complaint," Schiff said. Maguire has, as of Sunday, refused to provide it to Congress.
"It may be that we do have to move forward with that extraordinary remedy," Schiff said of impeachment.
Still, he acknowledged, the Republican-controlled Senate would not go along.
"There's no chance of us persuading the Senate, the Senate Republicans, in an impeachment trial. They have shown their willingness to carry the president's baggage, no matter how soiled its contents," Schiff said.
"I want to make sure, before we go down this road, that we can persuade the public that this was the right thing to do. And part of persuading the public that impeachment is the right thing to do is making sure that the country understands that this was a last resort," Schiff explained.
"The president is pushing us down this road."
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine