House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn’t think impeaching President Donald Trump is a good idea.
Pelosi said unequivocally she doesn’t believe the country should go through an impeachment process in a new interview with the Washington Post Magazine’s Joe Heim, saying Trump is “just not worth it” except in the case of bombshell revelations that both parties can agree are disqualifying.
“I’m not for impeachment,” Pelosi told Heim. “This is news. I’m going to give you some news right now because I haven’t said this to any press person before. But since you asked, and I’ve been thinking about this: Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.”
Pelosi has been walking this line for a while, making clear the House will conduct numerous investigations of Trump before it makes a judgment about whether to impeach the president. But in previous interviews, she’s kept the door to impeachment ajar.
“We have to wait and see what happens with the Mueller report,” Pelosi told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie in January. “We shouldn’t be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn’t avoid impeachment for a political reason.”
In other words, Pelosi knows the subject of impeachment is a kind of a partisan third rail. Unless House investigators or Russia investigation special counsel Robert Mueller find something so explosive that Republicans will join Democrats in impeaching Trump, Pelosi clearly doesn’t want to go there, for fear it would further polarize the country.
In the meantime, the House will take up a bill this week to eventually make Mueller’s report public. House committees under Pelosi have launched numerous investigations of their own, scrutinizing Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s private conversations, asking for the president’s tax returns, and looking at whether Trump committed obstruction of justice and abuse of power when he fired FBI Director James Comey.
The House Judiciary Committee has the authority to draft articles of impeachment, but any impeachment trial would take place in the US Senate (which is currently controlled by Republicans). Republicans so far have remained loyal to Trump, and Pelosi knows it would take a huge development to get them to change their mind — especially in the run-up to an election year.
Even though groups like billionaire Tom Steyer’s Need to Impeach have been pushing Democrats to take action, the House speaker apparently believes a much more politically convenient solution to getting Trump out of office would be winning the White House in 2020.
“This election is very important. I don’t think he’ll be reelected, but it is important for us to elect a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate and Democratic House,” she told Heim. “Not to diminish the importance of the others, but because of the actions taken by the person in the White House, disregarding the Constitution of the United States, disregarding our commitments to the world in terms of our commitment to NATO, to Paris climate, to our values.”
Pelosi has been clear: The House should perform its investigations of Trump first before any talk of impeachment takes place. But she doesn’t want anyone to start rushing to conclusions.
“This is our constitutional responsibility to have oversight over the executive branch, and the evidence they will have is what they will gather doing the oversight, bringing truth to the American people,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference last Thursday.