Dems call freshman's impeachment remarks 'inappropriate'

House Democrats on Friday pushed back on one of their newest colleagues, who attacked President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump knocks BuzzFeed over Cohen report, points to Russia dossier DNC says it was targeted by Russian hackers after fall midterms BuzzFeed stands by Cohen report: Mueller should 'make clear what he's disputing' MORE the previous day by vowing to “impeach the motherf---er.”

The jarring remarks by liberal freshman Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOn The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction GOP lawmaker accuses Dems of 'empowering' anti-Semitism GOP lawmaker pushes to derail Tlaib from leading delegation to West Bank MORE (D-Mich.) put Democrats on the defensive less than 24 hours after they took control of the House, putting a spotlight on the possible impeachment of Trump instead of Democratic efforts to end the government shutdown and the party's legislative priorities.

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“I have never said that in a public setting. The choice of words is inappropriate,” longtime Rep. Lacy ClayWilliam (Lacy) Lacy ClayDems split in response to 'impeach the motherf---er' comment Trump: Dem congresswoman 'dishonored' herself with profane call for impeachment Dems call freshman's impeachment remarks 'inappropriate' MORE (D-Mo.), a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, told The Hill. “We should conduct oversight, which is our responsibility, vigorous oversight, because it’s been lacking the last two years. And I think that we should also wait for special counsel [Robert] Mueller’s report to Congress so we can determine what we need to do.”

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsOvernight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal Key House Dem: I don't want to 'punish' drug companies House Dems fire first salvo in drug pricing fight MORE (D-Md.), who will lead many of Democrats’ investigations into the Trump administration, also called Tlaib’s comments “inappropriate.”

“One of the things that I've said about my committee, I've said that we will reclaim civility," Cummings told reporters in the Capitol. "You cannot accomplish very much of anything unless you have civility and show respect for your colleagues. And I think those kind of comments do not take us in the right direction.”

Rep. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoMark Kelly considering Senate bid as Arizona Dems circle McSally Schumer recruiting top-notch candidate for McCain Senate seat Science group seeks to draft Mark Kelly for 2020 Arizona Senate race MORE (D-Ariz.), a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, was more succinct: “Everyone should stop this impeachment talk until Mueller comes out with his report.”

GOP leaders quickly pounced on Tlaib’s comments.

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyNY Times prints special section featuring women of the 116th Congress Dem leaders avert censure vote against Steve King If Republicans rebuked Steve King, they must challenge Donald Trump MORE (R-Wyo.) lamented at a press conference that the remarks demonstrated “a real ramp up in rhetoric and name-calling and the kinds of politicization and partisanship that the American people are sick and tired of."

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Another freshman firebrand, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOn The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction The battle of energy-economic narratives is tainting the Green New Deal Ocasio-Cortez: 'At what point is Fox News obligated to not lie?' MORE (D.N.Y.), had been getting the lion’s share of media attention since she stormed onto the scene last summer after upsetting then-Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) in a primary election.

But Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women and the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, set off a media frenzy after she was recorded on video at a MoveOn rally near Capitol Hill on Thursday night.

“When your son looks at you and says, ‘Momma, look you won. Bullies don’t win.’ And I said, ‘Baby, they don’t.’ Because we’re going to go in there and impeach the motherf---er,” Tlaib said as the crowd erupted into cheers.

After the backlash, Tlaib doubled down on her remarks, issuing a statement reiterating her call for Trump to be impeached immediately.

“Congresswoman Tlaib was elected to shake up Washington, not continue the status quo. Donald Trump is completely unfit to serve as president. The Congresswoman absolutely believes he needs to be impeached. She ran and won by making this very clear to the voters in her district,” Tlaib’s office said. “Donald Trump’s actions have harmed the 13th Congressional District and this country, and Congresswoman Tlaib will not stay quiet while this happens.”

On Friday she tweeted: "I will always speak truth to power. #unapologeticallyMe.” 

But after a Friday photo op with House Democratic women outside the Capitol, Tlaib refused to comment as a gaggle of reporters followed her with recorders and video cameras.

The Democratic divide over Tlaib’s comments highlight the challenges for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal McConnell blocks bill to reopen most of government Overnight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' MORE (D-Calif.) as she seeks to balance demands from her party’s liberal base agitating for a confrontation with Trump with campaign promises that the new Democratic majority would focus on bread-and-butter issues while the Mueller probe continues.

At an MSNBC town hall on Friday, Pelosi tried to distance herself from Tlaib’s remarks.

“I'm not in the censorship business. I don't like that language, I wouldn't use that language, but I wouldn't establish language standards for my colleagues,” Pelosi said.

But she also said Tlaib's comment was "nothing worse than what the president has said."

Other Democrats pointed to past inflammatory comments made by Trump, like criticizing immigration from “shithole” countries. They also blamed Trump for establishing a precedent of incivility.

“He's opened up a new way of talking, a new way of addressing these issues in ways that we never heard before. And so I think what that does is that gives others the permission to speak passionately about it in the same manner that he has done,” said House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersOn The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction Financial system can forge bipartisanship in Congress Ocasio-Cortez, freshmen poised to take on Wall Street MORE (D-Calif.), who has called for Trump’s impeachment.

One House Democrat this week moved to ensure articles of impeachment were introduced with the new Congress.

Rep. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanBill Maher calls for impeachment of 'sick man' Trump: 'You have to go ahead and do it' Freshman House members: Calls for impeachment 'premature' Dems call freshman's impeachment remarks 'inappropriate' MORE (D-Calif.) reintroduced his articles of impeachment against Trump on Thursday, which he first unveiled in 2017. Sherman downplayed his move, which took place before Tlaib's remarks, as simply maintaining the “status quo.”

“The ball is where it was last month,” Sherman told reporters.

Rep. Alan LowenthalAlan Stuart LowenthalOvernight Energy: Wheeler weathers climate criticism at confirmation hearing | Dems want Interior to stop drilling work during shutdown | 2018 was hottest year for oceans Dems ask Interior to stop offshore drilling work during shutdown Overnight Energy: Park Service closing Joshua Tree after shutdown damage | Dems deliver trash from parks to White House | Dems offer bills to block offshore drilling | Oil lobby worries about Trump trade fight MORE (D-Calif.), another member of the Progressive Caucus, said he understood Tlaib’s passion but believes she will learn how to better communicate her message.

“Would I have chosen to do that? No, but it was what a lot of people feel, and especially the people who elected her. That’s what they feel and that’s why they won. But now that she’s here, is that the most effective first step to move things along? Will people focus on that statement rather than who she is? They are already,” Lowenthal told The Hill just off the House floor.

“We have a whole new group of people who bring freshness and ideas and wanting to change, and now they are running into the reality that they are being taped,” he added. “She’ll learn; she made a mistake probably to do that.”

Juliegrace Brufke contributed.