Congress

Pelosi: ‘Trump is goading us to impeach him’

‘Every single day he’s just like taunting, taunting, taunting,’ she said at an event

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., conducts her weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on March 14. Tuesday she said President Donald Trump was “goading” Democrats into impeaching him. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that President Donald Trump is trying to bait Democrats into starting impeachment proceedings against him but cautioned that her caucus will only be led to that process by the facts.

“Trump is goading us to impeach him,” the California Democrat said during an event in New York City hosted by the Cornell University Institute of Politics and Global Affairs.

“That’s what he’s doing,” she said. “Every single day he’s just like taunting, taunting, taunting because he knows that it would be very divisive in the country, but he doesn’t really care. He just wants to solidify his base.”

[Fact check: Trump focuses on ‘crimes,’ but impeachment is a political decision]

Democrats aren’t going to fall into that trap, Pelosi suggested.

“We can’t impeach him for political reasons, and we can’t not impeach him for political reasons. We have to see where the facts take us,” she said.

Pelosi has said Democrats need more information before deciding whether to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, while also accusing the president of obstructing justice.

She has now on multiple occasions noted that the third article of impeachment filed against former President Richard Nixon was about him ignoring subpoenas from Congress.

“That could be part of an impeachable offense,” Pelosi said of Trump doing the same. “Every day he’s obstructing justice by saying this one shouldn’t testify, that one shouldn’t testify and the rest. So he’s making a case, but he’s just trying to goad us into impeachment.”

Among the more information Pelosi is seeking is special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s unredacted report and underlying investigatory materials. Congress’ impeachment power is a justification for Democrats to be allowed access to that, she said.

Pelosi noted that Mueller decided not to definitively declare that Trump obstructed justice in part because of the Justice Department’s position against indicting a sitting president. In the Mueller report, it says that Congress has other options it can pursue besides indictment.

[Pelosi again urges caution on Trump impeachment, post-Mueller report]

“We need this information in case we want to exercise other options,” Pelosi said.

Yet the speaker reiterated that she’s not ready to start impeachment proceedings at this time.

“That might take us to a place, but we have to have more — I believe we have to have more information,” she said.

To that end, Pelosi responded to comments from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he doesn’t need to hear from Mueller because the case is closed. 

“I don’t think so,” Pelosi. “That’s just not a fact. The case is not closed.” 

2020 looms

Regardless of whether Democrats pursue impeachment, they must win the 2020 presidential election, Pelosi said.

“We cannot accept a second term for Donald Trump if we are going to be faithful to our democracy,” she said, noting the way to ensure that outcome is taking the fight to the public.

For Democrats, that means deciding to win 2020, she said.

“Winning an election is a decision. You decide you’re going to win. And therefore you make every decision in favor of winning,” she said.   

Pelosi has already decided that House Democrats will have effectively won the House by this November, a full year ahead of the actual election.

She said she plans to have Democratic candidates so fortified that the message to the GOP is this: “You’re going to be serving in the minority, my Republican friends, if you decide to run.”

Democrats success in 2020 is dependent on them running down the center, Pelosi said. 

“I think the center ground can be owned by the left,” she said, citing issues like raising the minimum wage, securing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and protecting the environment as ones that Democrats have advocated on from the left but are actually center issues. 

Democrats can “redefine what the center is,” Pelosi said. “The Republicans have abandoned the center. The left can own it.” 

If things don't go according to Pelosi’s plan and Trump wins re-election, she said Democrats will respect the results.

“We respect the vote of the people,” Pelosi said.

“I’m not sure that President Trump would’ve ever respected the vote of the [2018] election if we had won by a few seats, by a few votes,” she added. “I don’t believe that he would have, but we have to.”

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