Robert Mueller's decision not to deliver a prosecutor's opinion on his investigation, instead leaving the issue up to Congress, is creating a lot of headaches for Nancy Pelosi.
In the days since the redacted Mueller report was released, many members of the Democrats' progressive wing have rebelled against Pelosi's decree that impeachment isn't on the table - a strategy devised to protect Democrats in swing districts whose mid-term triumphs effectively handed Dems control of the House (despite all the media coverage they've received, AOC and the three other members of her WoC clique had little to do with the Democrats' electoral triumph).
Now, Bloomberg reports that Pelosi is scrambling to suppress demands made by AOC, Elizabeth Warren that the House explore the possibility of impeaching Trump on attempted obstruction of justice. AOC tweeted after the report was released that she would be signing Rashida "Impeach the motherfucker" Tlaib's impeachment resolution.
Mueller’s report is clear in pointing to Congress’ responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the President.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 18, 2019
It is our job as outlined in Article 1, Sec 2, Clause 5 of the US Constitution.
As such, I’ll be signing onto @RashidaTlaib’s impeachment resolution. https://t.co/CgPZJiULOL
While I understand the political reality of the Senate + election considerations, upon reading this DoJ report, which explicitly names Congress in determining obstruction, I cannot see a reason for us to abdicate from our constitutionally mandated responsibility to investigate.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 18, 2019
Many know I take no pleasure in discussions of impeachment. I didn’t campaign on it, & rarely discuss it unprompted.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 18, 2019
We all prefer working on our priorities: pushing Medicare for All, tackling student loans, & a Green New Deal.
But the report squarely puts this on our doorstep.
In what was perhaps an attempt to minimize the progressives demands to pursue impeachment, or maybe just buy time, Pelosi said during a visit to Belfast this week that she wouldn't criticize Trump while outside of the US, and her spokeswoman added that the issue of impeachment is something that should be handled one step at a time, and that Dems must wait until they see the unredacted report before making any decisions.
Pelosi on Friday deflected questions about impeachment while on a congressional trip in Ireland. She told reporters in Belfast she wouldn’t criticize the president of the United States while she was outside of the country, but that Congress will meet its responsibilities for oversight.
"As the Speaker has said repeatedly, one step at a time. We’re focused on getting the full unredacted version of the report and its underlying documents – as well as hearing from Mueller," Pelosi spokeswoman Ashley Etienne said in an email.
House Dems aren't alone in pushing for impeachment. After reading the report (or at least claiming she read the full report), Warren tweeted that the House must take its responsibility to push for impeachment seriously.
The Mueller report lays out facts showing that a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 election to help Donald Trump and Donald Trump welcomed that help. Once elected, Donald Trump obstructed the investigation into that attack.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 19, 2019
Mueller put the next step in the hands of Congress: “Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.” The correct process for exercising that authority is impeachment.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 19, 2019
To ignore a President’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 19, 2019
The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 19, 2019
I read the Mueller report. When I got to the end, I realized this is a point of principle. Because it matters not just for this president, but for all future presidents. No one is above the law. pic.twitter.com/RdAHQYoH0V— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 20, 2019
LIVE: Yesterday I called on the House to begin impeachment proceedings. This is a matter of principle for me. https://t.co/X91tKMcn51— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 20, 2019
Even some establishment Dems, like Jerry Nadler and Steny Hoyer, appear to have shifted their positions on impeachment ever so slightly, leaving the door open to proceedings if enough support builds in the House. During an interview with a NY radio station, Nadler said he didn't know what would happen with impeachment, but added that "we may get to that point". Steny Hoyer tweeted that the House must obtain the full report to "determine what actions might be necessary."
Congress must have the full report & all underlying evidence in order to determine what actions may be necessary to ensure that the Congress & the American people have all the info they need to know the truth & all options ought to remain on the table to achieve that objective.— Steny Hoyer (@LeaderHoyer) April 19, 2019
And of course, Texas Rep. Al Green, the godfather of the impeachment genre, has continued to bang that drum, vowing that he would again try to force an impeachment vote after failing twice in the past.
"If we don’t step up and do our job, if we engage in some sort of analysis and debate and refuse to say the word, ‘impeachment,’ we will engage in what Dr. King called the paralysis of analysis," Green said. "We will do this until such time someone will say it’s too late to get into impeachment, it will appear to be political, and as a result we will then decide that this must be taken to the polls on election day."
"Which means that we will have allowed the president to be above the law," he said.
Outside of Congress, billionaire Tom Steyer has financed a multi-million dollar advertising campaign to encourage people to sign his petition calling on Congress to work toward impeachment.
Looks like Pelosi might soon have a full-blown impeachment mutiny on her hands. Of course, the fact that the Republican majority in the Senate would likely never vote to remove a sitting president from their own party means Trump's odds of being removed before the end of his first term are very, very low.
But for the Democrats, at least, this whole fight is about principle, right?