Pelosi tamps down talk of impeachment

Pelosi tamps down talk of impeachment
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is tamping down talk of impeaching President Trump, stating Monday that while his first moves in office have been “reckless,” they offer no basis for his removal.

Her remarks appeared designed to distance congressional Democrats from the nascent impeachment movement, which is largely being driven by vehement opposition to Trump on the left.

“[There] are grounds for displeasure and unease in the public about the performance of this president who has acted in a way that is strategically incoherent, that is incompetent and that is reckless,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “And that is not grounds for impeachment.”

Pelosi was responding to recent comments from Rep. Maxine Waters, a fellow California Democrat, who said last week that she hopes Trump doesn’t survive his first term. Waters suggested the Democrats could help to catalyze an early exit.

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“I hope he’s not there for four years,” she said in an interview on Cheddar, an online broadcasting network targeting millennials. “I hope that this man and who he is, the way that he has defined himself, the way that he is acting — I am hoping that we are able to reveal all of this. 

“And my greatest desire is to lead him right into impeachment.”

Pelosi was more cautious, decrying Trump’s early actions while emphasizing that they don’t amount to the “high crimes and misdemeanors” described in the Constitution.

“When and if he breaks the law, that is when something like [impeachment] would come up,” she said. “But that’s not the subject of today.”

Waters, appearing Monday on the dais beside Pelosi, clarified her earlier comments, saying they came in response to the “questions and pleas” she’s hearing from constituents about Trump’s refugee ban and his friendly relationship with the Kremlin, among other contentious issues. 

Any threat to Trump’s presidency has been self-inflicted, Waters said, while stipulating that Congress must step in at some point if Trump continues down the path of aggressive and unilateral policymaking he’s adopted in the first two weeks.  

“I have not called for the impeachment — yet. He’s doing it himself,” Waters said. 

“I think he is leading himself into that kind of position, where folks will begin to ask, ‘What are we going to do?’ And the answer’s going to be, eventually, we’ve got to do something about him. 

“We cannot continue to have a president who’s acting in this manner,” she added. “It is dangerous to the United States of America.”

The White House responded on Monday with an attack of its own, characterizing Waters’s comments as “extreme rhetoric.”

“When San Francisco leftist Rep. Nancy Pelosi is the one trying to rein you in, you know you are out of touch,” spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in an email. “Between blocking the President’s unquestionably qualified nominees in the Senate and this new extreme impeachment talk, the Democrats have completely lost control and perspective. 

“The majority of Americans are behind the President’s efforts to drain the swamp and bring major change to Washington.”

The push to impeach Trump began even before his swearing-in, and a pair of liberal groups marked Inauguration Day by launching 

ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org, a petition campaign that has already attracted more than 600,000 signatures.

Supporters of the impeachment drive say Trump’s global business interests have created conflicts that make him constitutionally ineligible to sit in the Oval Office. Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns has only fueled accusations that he has something to hide. 

“From the outset of his presidency, Trump has been violating the U.S. Constitution in a way that we have not seen before and should not tolerate,” Norman Solomon, co-founder of RootsAction.org, which is behind the petition drive, wrote in The Hill Monday. “It’s time for members of Congress to get the impeachment process underway.”

Launching the impeachment process would require a House member to introduce a resolution requiring the Judiciary Committee to examine whether Trump has undertaken any impeachable activities. The next step is highly unlikely: convincing the GOP-led House to bring a vote on a resolution to investigate a Republican president.

Trump has set a dizzying pace in his first weeks in office, issuing a long string of executive orders designed to eliminate many of the legislative achievements of President Obama and the Democrats, including ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law. 

But controversy has followed, and last week a federal judge said Trump had overstepped his powers when he put a blanket travel ban on refugees and most travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

More recently, Trump raised plenty of eyebrows when he amplified his “respect” for Russian President Vladimir Putin and suggested U.S. leaders have acted equally murderously.  

“We’ve got a lot of killers,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly. “What, you think our country’s so innocent?”

A survey released last week by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling group found that 40 percent of voters want Trump impeached, up from 35 percent just a week earlier.