House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reluctant to jump on the Impeachment Express, but as restive Democrats call for action, the possibility emerges that the train may leave the station anyhow.
During a conference call with House Democrats Monday, Pelosi said she wanted to keep up the pressure on President Donald Trump, but did not put impeachment on the fast track, The New York Times reported, citing “people on the call.”
“We have to save our democracy. This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about saving our democracy. 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,” Pelosi said, according to The Times.
Pelosi’s mantra of investigating first and then seeing whether impeachment might be possible faces opposition within the Democrat-controlled House.
“We must begin impeachment proceedings and investigate if the president committed impeachable offenses,” Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota tweeted prior to the call.
I agree! We must begin impeachment proceedings and investigate if the president committed impeachable offenses. https://t.co/hbo8LdODB5
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) April 22, 2019
Democratic presidential candidates are also warming up to the idea of impeaching Trump, The Washington Post reported.
“If there are people in the House or the Senate who want to say that’s what a president can do when the president is being investigated for his own wrongdoings or when a foreign government attacks our country, then they should have to take that vote and live with it for the rest of their lives,” Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said during a CNN town hall event.
Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris, who is also a candidate for president, has indicated she might support impeachment proceedings.
“I’ve not seen any evidence to suggest that [Senate Republicans] will weigh on the facts instead of on partisan adherence to being protective of this president, and that’s what concerns me and what will be the eventual outcome,” Harris said.
“So we have to be realistic about what might be the end result. But that doesn’t mean the process should not take hold.”
Some Democrats, such as California Rep. Maxine Waters, have called for Trump to be impeached almost from the start of his presidency. Others believed that the report from special counsel Robert Mueller would provide fodder for impeaching Trump.
However, the report found no collusion between Trump and Russia. Although the report made it clear Trump spoke out about wanting the Mueller probe stopped, it did not say that Trump obstructed justice.
Democrats have indicated they plan to investigate Trump’s opposition to the report to determine if they can find wrongdoing where Mueller could not.
During the call, Pelosi seemed to understand her party is divided.
“I know it’s going to take courage on the part of all of our members to stick with a program that might not be as fast as they want,” she said, according to The Times. “But, again, I confess to you — and I say this to even my good friend Val Demings, for whom I have the highest esteem — I’m not struggling with this decision.”
Rep. Demings, a Florida Democrat, spoke out in favor of impeachment.
“While I understand we need to see the full report and all supporting documents, I believe we have enough evidence now,” she said. “We are struggling to justify why we aren’t beginning impeachment proceedings.”
CBS News, quoting unnamed sources, said the tone of the call was that there was a “belief Trump should be impeached, but great fear of what the political consequences would be.”
“My impression is that everyone is moving forward deliberately and people are leaving everything on the table,” one member on the call said. “Nobody said, ‘I want you to start impeachment Monday when we get back.’ [N]obody said, ‘Leave it alone, I don’t want impeachment.’”
Impeachment would begin in the Democrat-controlled House, which would file a list of charges against the president. A trial on those charges would then be held in the Republican-controlled Senate.
In his analysis of the call and the divisions among Democrats on the subject of impeachment, Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post summed it up this way: “The Democratic Party is currently engaged in a battle between its head and its heart — between a thirst for the power that has eluded it in recent years and a real sense that impeaching Trump is simply the right thing to do. Warren and Harris are now giving Democrats’ license to pursue the latter course — to make this a moral calculation rather than the political one Pelosi has argued in favor of.”
“If Democrats start joining their ranks and rejecting the pragmatic approach, Pelosi and her fellow leaders are going to be faced with a really difficult decision,” he wrote.
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