Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiJoining Pelosi, Hoyer says lawmakers should be free to trade stocks Budowsky: To Dems: Run against the do-nothing GOP, Senate Momentum builds to prohibit lawmakers from trading stocks MORE (D-Calif.) made her strongest comments to date on impeachment, saying in a new interview that President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger welcomes baby boy Tennessee lawmaker presents self-defense bill in 'honor' of Kyle Rittenhouse Five things to know about the New York AG's pursuit of Trump MORE is “just not worth it,” unless there’s bipartisan support for going down that road.
"Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country,” Pelosi said in a Washington Post interview published Monday. “And he’s just not worth it."
Pelosi told the newspaper last week that despite her opposition to impeachment, she does not believe Trump is fit to serve as president.
"Are we talking ethically? Intellectually? Politically? What are we talking here?" she said. "All of the above. No. No. I don’t think he is."
The Speaker elaborated on her comments later Monday afternoon in remarks to reporters comparing the Trump impeachment push to the one that followed former President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq.
NEW: Speaker Pelosi on impeachment: "They wanted me to impeach President Bush for the Iraq War. I didn’t believe in it then, I don’t believe in it now. It divides the country. Unless there is some conclusive evidence that takes us to that place." pic.twitter.com/G1wtDuMnwi— Bo Erickson (@BoKnowsNews) March 11, 2019
The California Democrat has set a very high bar for impeachment proceedings, even as the more progressive wing of her caucus clamors to remove Trump from office.
Impeachment has split the caucus since Democrats took control of the House in January, and the topic has gained steam in recent weeks following explosive testimony from Trump’s former lawyer, Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenMelania Trump announces new line of NFTs Michael Cohen to sell prison badge as NFT Sunday shows - Spotlight shifts to omicron variant MORE.
Rep. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanFraming our future beyond the climate crisis Overnight Defense & National Security — Congress begins Afghanistan grilling US says about 1,500 citizens remain in Afghanistan MORE (D-Calif.) re-introduced articles of impeachment on the first day of the new Congress in January, alleging that Trump had obstructed justice by firing then-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyHillary 2024? Given the competition, she may be the Dems' best hope Trump draws attention with admission he 'fired Comey' Countering the ongoing Republican delusion MORE.
Freshman Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibHouse Democrats inquire about possible census undercount in Detroit, other communities Michigan redistricting spat exposes competing interests in Democratic coalition Tlaib announces run in new Detroit district with Lawrence retiring MORE (D-Mich.) -- who drew national attention on her first day in office by pledging to “impeach the motherf---er” -- said last week she will introduce a measure by the end of the month to oust the president.
In an interview with Showtime’s “The Circus” that aired Sunday, interviewer Alex Wagner remarked to Tlaib that “it doesn't feel like you think he's any less of a motherf---er today than two months ago.”
“That’s right,” Tlaib replied, smiling.
A third Democrat, Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenLobbying world Ilhan Omar to Biden: 'Deliver on your promise to cancel student debt' Deportations of Haitians spark concerns over environmental refugees MORE (Texas), has pledged to force another House floor impeachment vote. He forced two procedural votes on impeachment during the 115th Congress when Republicans were in the majority, but neither effort was successful.
Green is scheduled to discuss his next steps on impeachment in an interview with C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” on Tuesday morning.
Outside of Congress, liberals agitating for Trump’s impeachment, like billionaire activist Tom Steyer, quickly began pushing back on Pelosi's latest remarks.
Steyer’s group, Need to Impeach, has aired television ads and held town halls to pressure Democratic lawmakers on impeachment.
"Speaker Pelosi thinks ‘he’s just not worth it?’ Well, is defending our legal system ‘worth it?’ Is holding the President accountable for his crimes and cover-ups ‘worth it?’ Is doing what’s right ‘worth it?’ Or shall America just stop fighting for our principles and do what's politically convenient?" Steyer said in a statement on Monday.
Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have largely sought to tamp down the issue, arguing that lawmakers should take a wait-and-see approach as special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG MORE and congressional committees conduct their investigations.
Pelosi has long downplayed talk of impeachment, saying it would be a “gift” to Republicans. She has maintained a consistent view on the subject since reclaiming the Speaker’s gavel, arguing it would have to be clear-cut and bipartisan.
“If there's to be grounds for impeachment of President Trump — and I'm not seeking those grounds — that would have to be so clearly bipartisan in terms of acceptance of it before I think we should go down any impeachment path,” Pelosi told USA Today in an interview published on the first day of the new Congress.
And in an interview around the same time with NBC’s “Today,” Pelosi stressed that “we have to wait and see what happens with the Mueller report.”
“We shouldn’t be impeaching for a political reason,” she added.
Cohen’s hearing late last month before the House Oversight Committee, in which he said Trump was directly engaged in bank fraud and involved in a scheme to silence women who alleged they had affairs with Trump more than a decade ago, gave new momentum to impeachment proponents. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
Rep. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyHouse Democrats inquire about possible census undercount in Detroit, other communities Democrats call on FDA to revisit ban on gay, bisexual men donating blood amid shortage Infrastructure spending should not facilitate sawing down our National Forests MORE (D-N.Y.), a member of the Oversight panel, said she felt the hearing “possibly could lead to impeachment.”
But Pelosi declined to wade into the debate, calling it a “divisive issue in our country.”
“I’m not going into that,” she told reporters the day after Cohen’s public testimony.
Instead, she and other party leaders have fixed their attention on ramping up investigations into Trump.
The House Intelligence Committee has spoken with Cohen behind closed doors in recent weeks and is scheduled to interview a Russian-American businessman at the end of the month about plans for a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month launched a sprawling investigation into the president’s administration, campaign and business, sending document requests to 81 individuals and entities.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerAndrew Cuomo attorney says AG investigation was 'shoddy,' outcome was 'predetermined' Democrats quietly explore barring Trump from office over Jan. 6 The Memo: Nation's racial reckoning plays out in 2021's big trials MORE (D-N.Y.), whose committee would oversee any impeachment proceedings, said at the time that the probe is part of congressional oversight responsibilities, adding that Congress remained "far from" impeachment.
"We are going to be the check and the balance," Nadler told CNN the same day he issued document requests. "We are going to find out, we are going to lay out the facts for the American people."
Updated at 7:59 p.m.