In a meeting on Tuesday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi clashed with House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler on the possibility of impeachment but made clear to senior Democrats that she would like to see Trump “in prison”.
The meeting involved Pelosi, Nadler (D-N.Y.) and other top Democrats who are actively pushing for investigations against the president. This behind the scenes battle between Nadler and other committee leaders has been going on for weeks and might finally be coming to a head. Nadler has made two recent requests to Pelosi, asking for permission to launch and impeachment inquiry against Trump but he has been repeatedly told no. Pelosi is adamant that now is not the time to move on the impeachment process.
According to Democratic sources privy to the meeting, Pelosi would like to see Trump get beaten in the upcoming 2020 election and then prosecuted for his alleged crimes. Pelosi apparently said,
“I don’t want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison.”Nancy Pelosi, on Trump
Those same sources said Pelosi understands and supports the pro-impeachment Democrats but that she doesn’t think now is the right time. Pelosi’s stance is that certain conditions must be in place before impeachment gets pushed, like wide public support and across the aisle backing, and so far neither of those are present.
Ashley Etienne, Pelosi”s spokeswoman offered a statement on the meeting saying, they “had a productive meeting about the state of play with the Mueller report. They agreed to keep all options on the table and continue to move forward with an aggressive hearing and legislative strategy, as early as next week, to address the president’s corruption and abuses of power uncovered in the report.”
Others in attendance were House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.). Absent from the meeting was vocal impeachment supporter Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).
Certainly not all committee leaders offered their support of the impeachment inquiry. Schiff and Neal said that if Democrats are even willing to open an inquiry, they need to be prepared to impeach and the caucus isn’t ready to do that.
This meeting is just another example of the turmoil facing the Democratic caucus centered around the impeachment issue and Pelosi is facing the majority of the backlash from members and leaders who aren’t happy with the current plan.
Nadler and Pelosi’s divide was on display Wednesday as he avoided questions about whether he and Pelosi were in agreement on Democrats’ impeachment plan.
Nadler said on CNN, “We are investigating all of the things we would investigate, frankly, in an impeachment inquiry.” Nadler, taking an unusually long pause when asked if he and Pelosi were on the same page over this issue, finally answered, “When that decision has to be made, it will be made not by any one individual, it will be made probably by the caucus as a whole… Certainly Nancy will have the largest single voice in it.”
Pelosi is obviously trying to present a unified public image, telling reporters on Wednesday,
“Make no mistake, we know exactly what path we’re on. We know exactly what actions we need to take.”Nancy Pelosi
Of course Trump continues to thwart the Dems’ plans to investigate his administration, personal finances, and charges of obstruction of justice. Party leaders are trying to come up with some viable way to make some progress- they have even scheduled a contempt vote on the House floor against Attorney General William Barr and former White House attorney Don McGhan for next week.
Some Dems believe their current methodical plan is working but others, and that number is growing all the while, believe that beginning an impeachment proceeding is really the only recourse.
Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and others met again with Nadler that night but he was still unsuccessful at convincing Pelosi to open an impeachment inquiry. Nadler and other lawmakers argue that simply opening an inquiry doesn’t necessarily mean Trump would be impeached but that just the process would strengthen their legal case.
Pelosi has maintained for quite some while that she just doesn’t think trying to impeach Trump is “worth it.” She believes they have GOT to have the public firmly on their side in the case of impeachment and without that factor, the ONLY way to do this is to now beat the president in 2020, THEN see to court proceedings and possible criminal charges.