Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that Democrats in Congress are ‘not even close’ when it comes to impeaching President Donald Trump but admitted the option was ‘not off the table.’
The speaker was visibly annoyed at getting questions on the president during a Q&A at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation 2019 Fiscal Summit.
‘It’s not even close in our caucus,’ she said when pressed on the impeachment issue admit reports that Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler wants her to move forward on the issue.
About 50 or 60 lawmakers out of 235 House Democrats are reported to support impeaching the president as Pelosi tries to balance those desires with a concern such a move could backfire on the party in the next election.
‘It’s not off the table,’ she conceded.
But the speaker looked frustrated as she was repeatedly asked about the president during the 30-minute question and answer session.
‘I don’t care what you ask me,’ Pelosi told questioner Manu Raju of CNN as he pressed her on President Trump. ‘I’m not going to talk about him anymore.’
She later added, under repeated questioning about Trump: ‘If I wanted to talk about the president, I would have more important work to do at home.’
But the president remained the main topic of conversation during the event, which came ahead of scheduled House vote on empowering committee chairs to enforce subpoenas issued to current and former Trump administration officials to testify before Congress.
Pelosi has been dealing with the liberal members of her party who are pushing for impeachment but the moderate wing hasn’t gotten there yet. The speaker repeatedly points out six House committees are investigating the president’s finances, taxes, business dealings and 2016 campaign.
But Nadler’s support for impeachment could bring more Democrats to that side of the argument. Nadler’s judiciary panel has taken the lead on investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election and pushing for the full, unredacted report from special counsel Robert Mueller to be released.
‘We’ve got to have the strongest possible case. Ironclad,’ she said Tuesday of going down the impeachment road.
The speaker also brushed aside Trump’s attack on her during an interview with Fox News at the 75th anniversary of D-Day commemoration, when the president called the speaker a ‘nasty, vindictive, horrible person.’
‘My stock goes up every time he attacks me,’ Pelosi said. ‘What can I say? Let’s not spend too much time on that, because that’s his victory. The diverter of attention in chief.’
But she did point out that at last Thursday’s event in Normandy, France, when she was interviewed on MSNBC, she refused to criticize the president while overseas.
‘I always say the first rule is we never criticize a president of the United States when we are overseas. We just don’t do that. We have plenty of time to do that back home. But when we travel, we don’t. Especially when we’re here to honor the courage of our veterans and thank them for that courage,’ she said.
She pointed out that she and Trump ‘had the same backdrop, the tombstones of our veterans who are buried in Normandy. The president took a different tact. I don’t think – I’m done with him. I don’t even want to talk about him.’
But Pelosi was also pressed about a report she told members of her party – behind closed doors – that she wants to see Trump in prison.
She refused to bite and answer the question.
‘When we have conversations in our caucus, they stay in our caucus,’ she said.
She added: ‘I don’t think you should impeach for political reasons and I don’t think you should not impeach for political reasons. It’s not about politics. It’s not about Democrats and Republicans. It’s about patriotism to our country.’
She also brushed back against the argument Democrats would learn more about Trump if they moved into formal impeachment hearings.
‘Is that true? That’s a question to be asked. If you open an inquiry, do you get more information? You still end up in the court,’ she said.