Pelosi: Dems shouldn't impeach Trump 'for a political reason'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that Democrats shouldn’t impeach President Trump “for a political reason.”

Speaking at the inaugural Time 100 Summit, Pelosi also called the Trump administration an “existential threat” to “our democracy in terms of our Constitution,” when asked about what her party's response should be to the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. “It’s about the presentation of the facts, and when we have the facts we’ll have a better idea of how we go forward.”

Pelosi said she held a conference call Monday with 177 Democratic House members and listened to comments regarding Mueller's report, which was released last week. Many Democrats have concluded that the report's description of President Trump’s efforts to thwart the special counsel's investigation constitute potential grounds for impeachment.

But Pelosi has resisted drawing that verdict, calling first for a congressional investigation and requesting the full report along with Mueller’s testimony before pursuing impeachment.

“What we did learn is that the Russians had a systemic overall assault on our electoral system and what we also did see is that the president of the United States engaged in a behavior that was unethical, unscrupulous and beneath the dignity of the office that he holds,” Pelosi said.

Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi participates in a panel discussion at the Time 100 Summit. (Photo: Brian Ach/Getty Images for Time)

“What’s surprising about it,” she continued, “is the Republicans seem to have an unlimited appetite for this kind of behavior, and instead of being ashamed of what that report said they gave their blessing once again to the president.”

Republicans have boasted the report fully vindicates Trump, but while the 448-page document found no evidence of a criminal conspiracy during the 2016 presidential election, it also described several instances in which Trump had sought to interfere with the special counsel's investigation.

Pelosi called it a “really a sad day for our country to see that report come out with all the inconsistencies in it.”

“The investigations that our committees will conduct will take us down a fact-finding path and anybody should welcome that,” she continued. “What is interesting about it all is that we now see the administration engaged in stonewalling of the facts coming to the American people.”

Pelosi made clear that she was not ruling out impeachment, and emphasized that the House would use its authority to hold the president accountable.

“The Justice Department may have not decided to use its full power to indict,” said Pelosi, but “Congress will not be silent in terms of using our constitutional power to find the facts for the American people.”

Democrats have blasted Attorney General William Barr's reading of Mueller's findings, accusing him of cherry-picking evidence so as to protect the president. It was Barr, not Mueller, who decided not to charge Trump with obstruction of justice, and Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., now believe the House must begin impeachment proceedings.

Trump railed against that notion on Tuesday.

Pelosi, however, is no rush.

“Impeachment is one of the most divisive forces, paths that we could go down to in our country,” she added. “But if the path of fact-finding takes us there, we have no choice.”


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