WASHINGTON >> House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, acknowledging a Democratic divide over new findings from Robert Mueller, appeared to urge her caucus to hold off impeaching President Donald Trump for now, even as she decried his “highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior” which she said “does not bring honor to the office he holds.”
In her first extended comments since the release of the special counsel’s report last week, Pelosi counseled caution to Democrats as she tested for cracks among Republicans. In a letter to colleagues, she said, “Congressional Republicans have an unlimited appetite for” the “low standards” set by Trump.
But she also urged Democrats not to put a specific punishment — namely impeachment — before lining up the facts in the coming weeks in hearings and a potential legal fight over access to the special counsel’s investigative files.
Pelosi’s letter arrived a few hours before House Democrats are set to convene by conference call for the first time since the release of Mueller’s report Thursday. With lawmakers scattered around the country for their spring recess, the call will provide Democrats with a chance to begin to hash out differences over what comes next. They are also likely to discuss how to handle upcoming hearings with Attorney General William Barr, who will testify before both the House and Senate next week, and Mueller, whom Democrats have asked to testify.
Several prominent Democrats have vocally endorsed the idea of initiating impeachment proceedings in recent days. They argue the House would legitimize Trump’s behavior by taking a pass on punishing him, and abdicate its duty to uphold constitutional norms.
Mueller’s report documented about a dozen episodes in which Trump sought to beat back the investigation into Russian election interference to protect himself and his associates. But Mueller declined to indict the president or recommend impeachment because he said legal and factual constraints prevented him from reaching a traditional judgment about whether Trump’s actions amounted to obstruction of justice.
House leaders and their allies have taken a more cautious approach. Without at least some bipartisan support, they have insisted, impeaching Trump simply may not be worth it, especially with the Republican-controlled Senate unlikely to convict and remove him from office.
Trump, for his part, insisted today there were no grounds to impeach him.