WASHINGTON – Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back on Democrats calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, even though she said the president “engaged in highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior which does not bring honor to the office he holds.”
Responding to calls from some of her members to impeach Trump for acts revealed Thursday in a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, Pelosi said impeachment proceedings are not the only way to uncover the facts needed for Congress to hold Trump “accountable.”
Her “Dear Colleague” letter posted on Monday comes before a conference call with House Democrats to discuss her party’s response to the investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election. Pelosi conceded Democrats don’t all agree on what course they should take following the report’s release last week.
“While our views range from proceeding to investigate the findings of the Mueller report or proceeding directly to impeachment, we all firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth,” she wrote.
The letter reveals the delicate balance Democrats are trying to strike between using their constitutional authority to stop Trump or turning their attention to 2020 elections to deny him re-election. Pelosi, who has been trying to tamp down impeachment talk, also wrote that it is “important to know that the facts regarding holding the president accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings.”
House Democrats already have launched multiple investigations of Trump, including his associates and businesses. Details from the Mueller report could be folded into those efforts, reinforced by new revelations and amplified by committee hearings and witness testimony.
The Judiciary Committee has scheduled a May 2 hearing with Attorney General William Barr and plans to call Mueller to testify.
Aside from impeachment, House leaders have suggested some type of censure resolution as another possible outcome of an investigation.
“As we proceed to uncover the truth and present additional needed reforms to protect our democracy, we must show the American people we are proceeding free from passion or prejudice, strictly on the presentation of fact,” Pelosi wrote.
But these efforts might not be enough for some of the most vocal House Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives, who have joined their colleagues who already introduced articles of impeachment.
They argue that Mueller’s findings of potential obstruction of justice leave it up to the House do its constitutional duty if the president has committed a crime. Two Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Julian Castro, want the House to consider impeachment.
Others worry that overreaching on impeachment could diminish or undercut Democratic efforts on policy issues like health care, violence against women, gun control and the environment that they plan to highlight in the 2020 elections. They argue it is unlikely the Republican-led Senate would convict Trump.
But for others, that’s not what is important. To some of them, failure of the House to act on impeachment — regardless of what the Senate might do — would set a dangerous precedent of immunity.
“Which means that we will have allowed the president to be above the law,” said Rep. Al Green of Texas, who promises to force a vote on the floor.