As we've previously explained, Nancy Pelosi has been desperately searching for an excuse to avoid starting impeachment proceedings against President Trump (that is, until Dems are certain they have the popular political support to justify trying to remove him from office).
Earlier this week, the Speaker of the House added what we saw as a novel excuse: Pelosi would rather Trump avoid impeachment and instead face prosecution as a private citizen after leaving office.
Or at least that's what she told Jerry Nadler, Politico reports. Nadler and other committee leaders have been enmeshed in a private behind the scenes battle over who will 'own' the Dems' sprawling investigation into Trump.
During a meeting this week, Pelosi again rebuffed Nadler, who again asked the speaker’s permission to launch an impeachment inquiry, according to Politico's sources.
Pelosi explained that she doesn't want to see Trump impeached, she wants to see him in prison.
"I don’t want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison," Politico reported Pelosi as saying to Nadler. Pelosi spokeswoman Ashley Etienne told Politico that Pelosi and several House chairmen "had a productive meeting about the state of play with the Mueller report."
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal and Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel were also present for the meeting, while Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters wasn't.
Showing how Democrats are increasingly split on the issue, Cummings sided with Pelosi, while Richard Neal, the chairman of ways and means, lamented that the decision by more Democrats to publicly endorse impeachment has been polarizing. In a comment that appeared to be directed at AOC, some members complained that junior lawmakers appeared to be setting the party's agenda on the issue.
Asked if he and Pelosi were on the same page, Nadler equivocated, saying only that when it was time to make a decision, Pelosi would have the single largest voice.
"When that decision has to be made, it will be made not by any one individual, it will be made probably by the caucus as a whole," Nadler added. "Certainly Nancy will have the largest single voice in it."
Pelosi has said time and time again that the best way to defeat Trump would be winning at the polls in 2020. Though given the state of the Democratic primary, that's looking less and less likely by the day.