Dems call freshman's impeachment remarks 'inappropriate'

House Democrats on Friday pushed back on one of their newest colleagues, who attacked President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE the previous day by vowing to “impeach the motherf---er.”

The jarring remarks by liberal freshman Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibDemocrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure Top House Dem calls to launch impeachment inquiry if McGahn skips testimony Tlaib calls on Amash to join impeachment resolution 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 ClayHarris: Biden 'would be a great running mate' Virginia teen's painting of migrant children to hang in US Capitol Divided Dems look to regroup 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 CummingsThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget On The Money: Judge upholds House subpoena for Trump financial records | Trump vows to appeal ruling by 'Obama-appointed judge' | Canada, Mexico lift retaliatory tariffs on US | IRS audit rate falls House Oversight Committee requests information on reported Trump plan to send TSA employees to border 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 GallegoDemocrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure Tensions swirl around Iran as administration to brief Congress Tensions swirl around Iran as administration to brief Congress 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 CheneyAmash storm hits Capitol Hill The GOP's commitment to electing talented women can help party retake the House GOP launches anti-BDS discharge petition 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-CortezSteve Bullock puts Citizens United decision at center of presidential push Fix the climate with smaller families Dem Sen. Markey faces potential primary challenge in Massachusetts 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 PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure 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 WatersDemocrats are running out of stunts to pull from impeachment playbook Maxine Waters: Trump 'has done everything that one could even think of to be eligible for impeachment' Maxine Waters: Parts of Trump immigration plan are 'very racist' 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 ShermanDems say NYT report on Trump's business losses boosts need to see president's tax returns Some Dem chairmen have changed tune on Trump impeachment Dems seek to rein in calls for impeachment 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: Dems press Interior chief to embrace climate action | Lawmakers at odds on how to regulate chemicals in water | Warren releases climate plan for military Interior chief dismisses climate concerns in first Natural Resources hearing: 'I haven't lost any sleep over it' Pelosi, Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez place transgender pride flags outside Capitol Hill offices 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.