Pelosi brushes off impeachment talk after Cohen testimony

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi, Mnuchin reach 'near-final agreement' on budget, debt ceiling Wendy Davis launches bid for Congress in Texas Steyer calls on Pelosi to cancel 'six-week vacation' for Congress MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday dismissed talk of impeachment following the provocative testimony a day before from President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE's former personal attorney.

"I'm not going into that, I'm not going into that," she told reporters in the Capitol.


Michael Cohen, appearing Wednesday before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, had claimed that Trump broke numerous laws, both on the campaign trail and since he entered the White House, including violations of campaign finance statutes.

The much-watched hearing led some Democrats to say the case for impeaching the president is now more robust.

But Pelosi, who has spent much of Trump's presidency tamping down impeachment talk within her caucus, did not stray from that strategy Thursday, arguing that she didn't watch the hearing, cannot verify Cohen's accusations and wants to see more evidence of presidential wrongdoing before deciding on the monumental question of whether Trump's behavior merits his ouster.

"The one thing I did see widely reported was that the witness said that other issues, that he was aware of, were under consideration by the [prosecutors in the] Southern District of New York. So let's see what that is," Pelosi said. "But, again, impeachment is a divisive issue in our country. And let us see what the facts are, what the law is, and what the behavior is of the president."

Pelosi reiterated her long-standing message that, before she makes any decisions on impeachment, she also wants to see the results of the ongoing probe by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThis week: Mueller dominates chaotic week on Capitol Hill Top Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction MORE, whose team is investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 elections and whether Trump's campaign team colluded with Moscow to sway the results.

"We have two investigations, [including] the Mueller report that we're all anxiously awaiting," she said.

Cohen's marathon testimony before the Oversight panel on Wednesday captivated Capitol Hill and beyond, as Trump's former personal attorney unloaded lurid details about what he claimed was the president's direct involvement in hush payments to a porn star — payments that would violate campaign finance laws — and a failed bid to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

"He is a racist, he is a con man and he is a cheat," said Cohen, who is headed to prison in May for three years after being convicted of tax evasion and lying to Congress.

Trump's Republican allies on Capitol Hill rushed to the president's defense, portraying Cohen's testimony as a partisan witch-hunt featuring a convicted felon with no credibility. Many Republicans also see the hearing as the Democrats' first formal step toward impeachment.

"They are doing exactly what they said before the election, that their whole goal is to try to impeach the president," Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants History in the House: Congress weathers unprecedented week EU official in Canada says he feels 'at home' there because no one was shouting 'send him back' MORE (R-Calif.) told reporters Thursday. "It's not about the challenge that we face as America, it's not about the challenge that we face to make the next century ours. This is purely political."

McCarthy also skewered Democratic leaders for scheduling the Cohen hearing while Trump was overseas negotiating with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as well as threatening to haul to Capitol Hill more Trump family members and associates.

"To even have a hearing while the president is overseas in Vietnam negotiating with North Korea says a lot about this new majority, says a lot about what their agenda is," he said.

Fueling those sentiments, some Democrats say Cohen's testimony lends more credence to the impeachment push.

"A lot of information came out that I wasn’t aware of. And we have numerous investigations taking place in Congress and we’ll follow the facts where they take us," Rep. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment House passes bill to reauthorize funding for 9/11 victims It's time for the left to advance a shared vision of national security: Start by passing the NDAA MORE (D-N.Y.), a member of the Oversight committee, said Thursday on CNN.

"I think it possibly could lead to impeachment."

It was just the type of statement Pelosi has tried to discourage. And the Speaker adopted a much more cautious approach the day after Cohen's explosive testimony, saying she's more alarmed by Trump's policies — including his recent emergency declaration at the southwest border — than by anything Cohen said.

"I'm more concerned about his policy than his personality," she said. "However, when the facts are known, then we can make a judgment."

Scott Wong contributed.