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Pelosi Doubles Down on Opposition to Impeachment
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=50637"><span class="small">Rachael Bade, Karoun Demirjian and Jacqueline Alemany, The Washington Post</span></a>   
Tuesday, 23 April 2019 08:25

Excerpt: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told lawmakers Monday that there are no plans to immediately open impeachment proceedings against President Trump, rejecting calls from several Democrats to initiate steps to try to oust the president."

Nancy Pelosi. (photo: Erin Schaff/NYT)
Nancy Pelosi. (photo: Erin Schaff/NYT)

ALSO SEE: Kamala Harris Joins Impeachment
Call During Democratic Town Hall

Pelosi Doubles Down on Opposition to Impeachment

By Rachael Bade, Karoun Demirjian and Jacqueline Alemany, The Washington Post

23 April 19


ouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi told lawmakers Monday that there are no plans to immediately open impeachment proceedings against President Trump, rejecting calls from several Democrats to initiate steps to try to oust the president.

In a rare Monday night conference call, the California Democrat stressed that the near-term strategy in the wake of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report is to focus on investigating the president and seeing where the inquiries lead. Members of Pelosi’s leadership team reaffirmed her cautious approach, according to four officials on the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

“We have to save our democracy. This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about saving our democracy,” Pelosi said.

But Pelosi’s message did not go over well with several Democrats, who argued that Congress has a duty to hold Trump to account with impeachment despite the political blowback Pelosi has long feared.

Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, argued that as someone with more than 25 years of experience in law enforcement, she thought the House had enough evidence to proceed.

“While I understand we need to see the full report and all supporting documents, I believe we have enough evidence now,” Demings said.

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) said the party has a duty to openly discuss the downside of not impeaching Trump for his actions and the precedent it could set for the future.

Mueller, in the 448-page redacted report released last week, identified 10 instances of potential obstruction of justice by Trump but he did not find that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.

The report has divided Democrats, with several clamoring for impeachment, notably White House candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), while others argue such a step is futile with the GOP controlling the Senate. Several Democrats maintain that impeachment would embolden Trump and his Republican backers ahead of the 2020 election.

Despite leadership’s effort to tamp down impeachment talk, they did not rule it out completely. In fact, after some of her members spoke up, Pelosi clarified that “if it is what we need to do to honor our responsibility to the Constitution — if that’s the place the facts take us, that’s the place we have to go.”

“I wish you would just read my letter because it, I think succinctly, presents some of the reasons, I think — whether it’s articles of impeachment or investigations, it’s the same obtaining of facts,” she said to her members. “We don’t have to go to articles of impeachment to obtain the facts, the presentation of facts.”

The nearly 90-minute call with lawmakers scattered around the country during the congressional recess came just hours after Pelosi appeared to tap the brakes on impeachment discussions. She argued in a letter to her colleagues that while Democrats would hold Trump accountable for his actions in the Mueller report, “it is . . . important to know that the facts regarding holding the president accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings.”

“Whether currently indictable or not, it is clear that the president has, at a minimum, engaged in highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior which does not bring honor to the office he holds,” Pelosi wrote.

She added: “As we proceed to uncover the truth and present additional needed reforms to protect our democracy, we must show the American people we are proceeding free from passion or prejudice, strictly on the presentation of fact.”

The speaker’s caution comes despite an impeachment push by some 2020 presidential hopefuls and even some of her Democratic chairmen, who suggested on the Sunday talk shows that it might be an option.

But as they briefed lawmakers on the call Monday night, those same chairmen appeared to push that notion to the side for now, suggesting Democratic leaders — who spoke privately before the call — have decided it is not the time to start such proceeding.

Even House Financial Services Chairman Maxine Waters, who last week warned that “Congress’s failure to impeach is complacency in the face of the erosion of our democracy and constitutional norms,” did not push the matter. Instead, the California Democrat, a vocal Trump critic who is probing the president’s business practices before he won the 2016 election, made a point on the call of clarifying that she is not pressuring lawmakers to join her effort.

Waters instead spoke of her latest effort to subpoena a bank that lent money to Trump despite his bankruptcies. Just minutes before the call, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) subpoenaed former White House counsel Donald McGahn, who was a central witness in Mueller’s probe into possible obstruction of justice by Trump.

Nadler also spoke on the call about his own next steps in investigating Trump.

According to an official on the call, leadership tried to emphasize that impeachment is not a political decision and that they would let the chairmen do what they need to keep investigating Trump. But Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.) challenged that assertion, telling leadership not to “shy away from the notion that impeachment isn’t political.”

“It is political,” he retorted.

But leadership had allies. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), the leader of the centrist New Democrat Coalition, said he was committed to ensuring Trump doesn’t get reelected but also wondered if the party would guarantee the Republican’s second term with an impeachment push.

Himes asked for impeachment data from leaders so Democrats knew where the country was on the issue. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.) agreed.

According to a recent survey, roughly 6 in 10 Democrats said Congress should begin impeachment hearings in a Washington Post-Schar School poll conducted after Attorney General William P. Barr’s initial letter to Congress about the investigation’s findings but before the release of the final report. But the same survey found the public overall leaned against impeaching Trump, with 41 percent saying Congress should begin hearings and 54 percent saying lawmakers should not.

At one point on the call, a lawmaker brought up a question about whether House Democrats could censure the president. Nadler explained how it has no legal effect but would just be a simple expression of disapproval.

Nadler said it was an option, though did not endorse it explicitly.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), one of the most liberal members in leadership, said no option, including impeachment, should be taken off the table. She asked leadership to give lawmakers messaging about how House Democrats can both push for economic issues they ran on while also holding up the rule of law by checking Trump.

Despite Democratic leadership’s move to down play the prospects of impeachment at this time, they did not rule it out completely. Officials following the House probes closely say that’s intentional.

Should Pelosi declare “no impeachment” flat out, she probably would undercut her chairmen’s bid to sue the Trump administration for the full Mueller report, including grand jury information. To get those documents, impeachment probably would have to be on the table, lawyers say, justifying the House move to get such information.

Pelosi would also risk the ire of the far left, which has typically viewed her as an ally of their cause.

Before the Mueller report, Pelosi had argued that impeachment was too divisive, politically costly and that Trump was “not worth it.” Pelosi also set a high threshold for taking up impeachment, arguing it would have to be bipartisan.

But after the Mueller report’s release, Republicans have largely gone silent, even as Mueller detailed the Trump campaign welcoming Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and Trump’s effort to thwart the investigation.

Mueller, however, did not establish conspiracy and did not answer the question of whether Trump obstructed justice, appearing to kick the issue to Congress. Barr said the president did not obstruct justice.

Republicans control the Senate, and even if the Democratic-led House voted to impeach Trump, it would take a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict the president and remove him from office. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday dismissed the notion of impeachment.

“Well, look, I think it’s time to move on. This investigation was about collusion, there’s no collusion, no charges brought against the president on anything else, and I think the American people have had quite enough of it,” McConnell said when questioned during a stop in Owensboro, Ky.

Pelosi in her Monday letter took a shot at the GOP for its muted reaction to the Mueller report.

“It is also clear that the congressional Republicans have an unlimited appetite for such low standards,” she wrote. “The GOP should be ashamed of what the Mueller report has revealed, instead of giving the president their blessings.”

Pelosi also called on the GOP-controlled Senate to take up campaign finance legislation that passed the House earlier this year, which included sweeping ethics changes. On Sunday, the president’s legal team argued that it was acceptable for the Trump campaign to seek to benefit from Russia’s hacking of the Clinton campaign.

“[I]n light of the President’s defenders arguing in defense of receiving and weaponizing stolen emails, we continue to press our Republican House counterparts to take up our pledge to refuse to use stolen, hacked, or falsified information in campaigns because the American people deserve honest debate,” Pelosi wrote.

Meanwhile, White House officials taunted House Democrats as they considered their next steps.

“If they have to get a conference call together to figure out where they’re going from here, they shouldn’t be in office in the first place,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on “Fox and Friends.” “I think it’s quite sad that they’ve got to have a conference call with all of their members to figure out what they’re going to do with themselves now that the Mueller report is out and proven that there was no collusion and no obstruction.”

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+19 # bdeja 2019-04-23 09:54
It is just irresponsible to ignore the many wrongdoings of Trump and his gang. Our Country should be ruled by its laws. Reagan, Bush Sr. and Jr. we’re allowed to go unpunished for their wrongdoings. We have become a Country that punishes the poor and average citizen but does little to the rich and powerful. Elizabeth Warren is alone amongst our Presidential candidates who shows the courage to do what is right. Nancy Pelosi and many others are playing the polls game. Measuring the winds direction and just trying not to rock the boat too much. I believe our Country is on its last legs. if the President goes unchallenged and is allowed to do as he bloody well pleases in breaking our Government we will have failed as a Democratic Republic. We will have failed our people, our planet and our Bill of Rights and Constitution.
+12 # Salus Populi 2019-04-23 10:21
More proof that the electoral "system" is corrupt beyond redemption. Let's just tell Drumpf that we kinda disapprove of some of his actions, and then move on to try to lose the 2020 "election" both by ensuring that no "popular tribune" or grassroots supported progressive gets the DemonRats' nomination, and by continuing to absolve the RethugNaziCons of having essentially stolen the 2016 election, in favor of putting the blame -- _sans_ any public evidence at all, and in the face of overwhelming counter-evidenc e -- on Russia, in hopes of igniting a new hot war. After all, as Harry Truman is said to have stated, "if you give the people a choice between a Republican and a Republican, they'll choose the Republican every time." And the out-of-touch millionaire chattering class of bloviated squawking heads, still calling our system a glorious democracy, can't understand why so few people bother to vote these days.
+4 # revhen 2019-04-23 10:29
Need clear and devastating PROOF of impeachable offenses. It looks like there are but it needs to be nailed down. T and cohorts are trying to block access to such proof. We'll see.
+2 # Robbee 2019-04-23 10:40
Quoting lfeuille 2019-04-20:
No Schumer and Pelosi don't want to go slow. They don't want to go at all.

- it's not up to Schumer and Pelosi to decide whether or not congress has to follow their duty to oversee the executive

congress is obliged to do their duty - even if oversight naturally leads to impeachment

there is no alternative that allows congress to renounce its duty - even if pence is worse! - even if repuke senate won't convict what abomination dem congress house impeaches!

if congress has to impeach our creep-in-chief? then it must do so with sincere regret that dickhead is so irresponsible that he cannot be allowed to continue as prez

in this congress, house dems have passed plenty of bills to reform federal policy law!

as night follows day, the continued oversight of the executive will develop the basis for many more reform bills!

in order to keep proposing more and more reforms? must we stop overseeing our corrupt and criminal dickhead executive?


1) investigate the bastard!

investigate the bastard's cronies! all the m-f-'s!

* don't give putin, or any other such foreigners! white supremacists! and dictators! the shiny, brand-new free-pass dickhead wants for them!

2) house-pass needed reforms to laws!

3) impeach the bastard!
+2 # economagic 2019-04-23 10:52
This could turn out to be the best of all possible worlds, with The Old War Horse urging conservative caution, the Upstart Activists smelling blood and demanding action, and some Middle Managers seeking to make coin and advance their careers by going out on a limb. At worst it will keep "the i-word" in the news for a while. :-)
-1 # pal 2019-04-23 12:03
Is Nanvy aiding and abetting a criminal for fundraising purposes
+1 # HenryS1 2019-04-23 12:14
As much as I admire AOC and Warren, I think the stakes are too high to risk starting impeachment right now. Their constituents in the Bronx and Massachusetts are not typical of the US right now,

Pelosi's pragmatism may serve both Democrats, and the country as a whole right now. Investigating is hard enough when Trump and Sanders essentially control public perceptions.

This is not Watergate, Trump is not Nixon, and in one respect Trump is right: winning is everything. And he is winning.

The political calculations are critical. That doesn't mean that ideals and emotions are unimportant. But in this fight Trump is expert at using ideals and emotions to hamstring his opposition and cause fumbles.

Not impeaching now probably increases the chance of successful impeachment later. Just one opinion.
+6 # Farafalla 2019-04-23 12:48
This is a typical WaPo story that likes the centrist "middle" over the principled left. One phrase that jumped out "risk the ire of the far left" Far left? That would be the Trotskyites or Maoists. So progressive Dems are the far left in Bezos' WaPo.
+1 # chapdrum 2019-04-23 20:55
WaPo creates its own definitions, e.g., far left, to fit its desired outcome.
0 # tsyganka 2019-04-24 16:09
I still recall with Anger how WaPo in 2016 published 16 hit-jobs on Bernie within, yes, 16 hours.

I suspect that Bezos doens't like Bernie because Bezos doesn't want to pay his fair share of taxes. He paid NONE last year.

Bezos has already aimed WaPo against Bernie for 2020, and I also see evidence of the Republicans, establishment Democrats, Russians, and other media doing the same, just as they did in 2016.

One of the most insidious bits of anti-Bernie propaganda showing up so far is the ploy of "I'll vote for ANY Democrat who's nominated, but I will NOT work in the primary to get the BEST Democrat nominated." Well freak out loud. Roll over, eat worms, and die. I can't stand folks like that.
+3 # QueenBee62 2019-04-23 14:09
Trump should be impeached! We’re all sick of him—sick of his outrageous lies, and everything else about him. We know he's guilty of obstruction, and he’s unfit to be president. Impeachment is the morally right thing to do. BUT is it the way to get rid of this m’fer? I’m not so sure.

Democrats are between a rock and a hard place. If we begin impeachment proceedings would this ultimately ensure Trump’s reelection? I don’t want to take that chance, and I doubt anyone else commenting here would either. We can’t take another four years of Trump. We need to concentrate fully on winning the presidency AND the Senate next year.

I think this is Nancy Pelosi’s thinking, even though she doesn’t say it directly. We know she and Chuck Schumer and the other centrist Democrats hate him as much as all the progressives, but the cost of impeachment will be far too great for us to bear. Our country will never recover from Trump if he is reelected. Impeachment maybe the constitutionall y and morally right thing to do, but it is not the politically smart thing to do.
+1 # chapdrum 2019-04-23 20:53
In this scenario, interesting what we would ultimately value.
0 # johnescher 2019-04-23 14:19
Democrats-- what a bunch of gutless wonders. Two strong women appear to be exceptions: Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Remember, the worst criticism that can be made of Barack Obama is that he frequently pulled his punches. Did this work out? Debatable.

I heard one accusation that Robert Mueller has pulled his punches, too. Is that right? Or did he present his information in the strongest possible way, as voluminous items to be thoroughly considered along with further investigation that was outside his purview for a crisp determination by the House to impeach or not.

Do I understand the impeachment process correctly? Most people don’t, it seems to me. Impeachment hearings are not impeachment. If the House, after the fullest possible investigation decides to impeach, the Senate then decides to convict (or not).

We Americans are such smarties that we know the Senate will decide to acquit, so, we reason, why hold impeachment hearings at all? Especially when we can hold oversight hearings that are short of impeachment hearings.

But why stop there? Why not just assume that Trump will be the next president just as he is the present president so don’t hold any hearings at all.
-2 # QueenBee62 2019-04-23 16:40
And if the House votes to impeach Trump, as it probably would, and if he is then acquitted by the Senate, as he most certainly would be (why do you think there’s any question about that?), do you really think the Dems would win the presidency? I seriously doubt it. It will bring out Trump voters in spades, as well as those who may be undecided, to vote for him. So go ahead and hold impeachment proceedings, and see.
0 # chapdrum 2019-04-23 20:56
He's unlikely to leave office, whatever transpires.
+8 # PABLO DIABLO 2019-04-23 16:21
An Empire in decline.
+3 # chapdrum 2019-04-23 20:51
Perfect: sadist in the Oval Office, masochist in the House.
+2 # MikeAF48 2019-04-24 08:29
Facts,facts,fac ts then go for the throat demand answers don't get consumed with impeachment mindset find some solid ground then move on it go slow and easy build your case. Democrats have always stepped up. Just keep this Lawless President on his toes he doing a good job of stepping on his own dick. This whole matter is about timing.