Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to impeach President Donald Trump, but a growing number of her members are trying to drag her there.
Despite repeated pronouncements from the California Democrat that she doesn’t want to try to remove Trump from office — including taking a hard line in a tense leadership meeting Monday night — Pelosi faces increasing calls from her rank and file to trigger an impeachment inquiry.
Pelosi is now attempting to keep her caucus in line as the White House continues to fuel the conflict with the new House majority over its investigations. Trump on Tuesday blocked his former White House counsel from testifying in a highly-anticipated hearing with the House Judiciary Committee.
Pelosi and her top deputies announced they will hold a closed-door meeting Wednesday to fully brief members on the House Democrats’ sprawling oversight efforts and investigations — an attempt to mollify the faction of Democrats who have begun to demand more drastic measures against Trump.
But at a closed-door meeting late Monday, Pelosi rejected calls from House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler to move ahead with an impeachment inquiry, according to multiple sources. Nadler was also instructed to tell members of the panel not to bring up the notion of an impeachment inquiry at the panel’s high-profile hearing Tuesday, where former White House counsel Don McGahn was expected to defy a Democratic subpoena.
Calls for that impeachment inquiry surfaced in multiple closed-door meetings Monday, as frustrated members of the House Judiciary Committee vented about the White House’s repeated stonewalling of their investigation and bluntly urged Pelosi to begin the impeachment process.
“Yes, we do need to start an inquiry,” said Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), one of several members of Judiciary who sharpened her stance his week.
“I think we’re at an inflection point. We’re no longer dealing with a president who obstructed the Mueller inquiry. He’s now obstructing Congress at every turn including telling witnesses who no longer work for the government that they cannot speak about public documents,” Scanlon said.
Several other key Judiciary members, including Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Pramila Jayapal, also said for the first time this week that they backed an impeachment inquiry.
The issue did not come up at the caucus’ hour-long meeting Tuesday morning, which focused on the Trump administration’s heightened tensions with Iran.
But with McGahn defying Democrats, impeachment was on the minds of many rank-and-file members — several of whom say they were warming to the idea of moving toward impeachment.
“A couple of more moves like that latest is probably going to push me over. And I don’t celebrate it, it’s not something that makes me happy,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) said.
Key members of leadership are also backing up the speaker, who worries any impeachment push would distract from the party’s agenda and could backfire politically.
“It’s clear to anybody who’s paying attention. We’re in the majority because of… [members] who did not run on impeachment, did not run on collusion, did not run on obstruction of justice,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)
“That remains the North Star for the overwhelming majority of the House Democratic Caucus,” he said.
Other Pelosi allies insisted any movement toward impeachment was mostly contained to the Judiciary Committee.
“Judiciary members may be intense. But I fully support Nancy Pelosi where she is right now,” Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) said. “We also have to deliver on prescription drugs and infrastructure, and a partisan impeachment would tear this country apart.”
Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.
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