Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is facing new pressure from House Democrats to open impeachment proceedings against President Trump, as the White House continues to resist Democratic Congressional investigators who are in the 11th inning of their battle to unseat Trump from office.
On Wednesday, Pelosi met with her party behind closed doors to discuss the latest avenue for impeachment, telling the press that House Democrats believe Trump is engaged in a cover-up in regards to the administration's efforts to prevent former White House Counsel Don McGahn from testifying Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee.
"It was a very positive meeting, a respectful sharing of ideas. And I think a very impressive presentation by our chairs. We do believe it is important to follow the facts, that no one is above the law, including the president of the United States. And we believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up. A cover-up. And that was the nature of the meeting."
JUST IN: Speaker Pelosi says "we believe the president of the United States is engaged in a cover up" by stonewalling testimony for ongoing congressional investigations. pic.twitter.com/7ILMb95vZM— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 22, 2019
Pelosi, meanwhile, has long considered impeachment a political trap which could blow up in Democrats' faces - alienating swing voters and ensuring another victory for Trump in 2020. She and her top lieutenants were also on Capitol Hill in 1998, when Republican efforts to impeach former President Clinton without bipartisan support resulted in a backlash at the polls.
Everything the Democrats are asking me for is based on an illegally started investigation that failed for them, especially when the Mueller Report came back with a NO COLLUSION finding. Now they say Impeach President Trump, even though he did nothin wrong, while they “fish!”— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 22, 2019
Last month's release of the Mueller report, however, has caused a split among Democrats - as a small pack of rank-and-file members have broken away to endorse impeachment proceedings.
In at least two private meetings this week, Pelosi was pressed by Democrats to consider moving more quickly toward impeachment. In one of the meetings, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler conveyed that some of his panel’s Democrats now want to pursue that option, according to a House official. His committee would likely oversee the early stages of such an inquiry.
A vocal minority, including Financial Services Chairman Maxine Waters and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has long been calling for Trump’s impeachment, with even more urgency since Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report was released. But until this week, that talk had been relatively isolated. And Pelosi retains many influential supporters who firmly back her go-slow approach, including No. 3 House Democrat James Clyburn and long-time ally Rosa DeLauro. -Bloomberg
After McGahn skipped out on the House Judiciary panel on Tuesday, Democrats appeared to be unsure about how to proceed. The Democrats on Nadler's panel scrapped a post-hearing press conference because they couldn't agree on what to say, according to Bloomberg, citing a person familiar with the matter.
Sounding a lot like Maxine Waters, Karen Bass (D-CA) - chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told reporters after the hearing that when it comes to impeachment "I think that we are probably going to wind up there," adding "I don’t know if that is today; I don’t know if we might be forced to act very soon."
"Obviously, all of us respect [Pelosi’s] perspective and her opinion," said Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) who sits on the Intelligence Committee. "But I think, individually, each of us have a perspective of our own. And I think it’s time to start [impeachment]."
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who also sits on the Judiciary Committee and has recently changed his mind in favor of launching an inquiry, said "I would say that there are arguments for doing it, but we have to agree collectively."
Kentucky Democrat John Yarmuth, the House Budget Committee chairman, said lawmakers need to pursue impeachment investigations even if the Republican majority in the Senate won’t support removing Trump. “We need in this Congress not necessarily to expel the president but to call attention to the threat he poses to our way of life,” Yarmuth told CNN Wednesday. -Bloomberg
Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas - a senior member of the Judiciary panel, is taking a more measured approach, telling reporters that she will introduce a resolution over the next two days to authorize the Judiciary Committee to investigate whether there are sufficient grounds to launch impeachment proceedings in the first place.
"We believe and continue to believe that we are doing the right thing by investigating, and that our task is to educate before we activate, and that is what we will do," said Jackson Lee.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) is also backing Trump’s impeachment, but he cautioned that no such effort will go anywhere before Pelosi and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) jump on board.
“I think he’s committed impeachable offenses and he ought to be impeached,” said Cohen, who chairs the Judiciary Committee’s subpanel on the Constitution. “[But] if Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Nadler don’t change their mind it’s not going to happen.”
“There’s more people in favor of an impeachment inquiry; there’s more people in favor of impeachment, yes. So I guess that’s momentum,” Cohen added. “But as far as momentum going to a level of a majority or action, then we’re not anywhere near that.” -The Hill
"We have to have the American people behind us," said Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA). "Even if we are successful in the impeachment vote on the House side, my concern is that if that vote is not successful on the Senate side — which in fact would be unlikely — then would that be considered a victory for Trump?"