Pelosi says impeaching Trump 'just not worth it'

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game Dem divisions deepen over approach to climate change 2020 Dems avoid this year's AIPAC conference MORE (D-Calif.) made her strongest comments to date on impeachment, saying in a new interview that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate GOP budget ignores Trump, cuts defense Trump says he'll nominate Stephen Moore to Fed White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated 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."

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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.

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 CohenSwalwell on Hicks testimony: 'She's going to have to tell us who she lied for' in Trump admin College admissions scandal underscores importance of attorney ethics in America Hillicon Valley: Kushner accused of using WhatsApp, personal email for official work | White House rejects request for Trump-Putin communications | Facebook left 'hundreds of millions' of passwords unsecured | Tech pressured to root out extremism MORE.

Rep. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanDems flock to Pelosi on Trump impeachment Pelosi says impeaching Trump 'just not worth it' Tlaib to offer impeachment articles against Trump by end of month 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 ComeyThe Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game Comey: I'm not rooting for Mueller to demonstrate Trump is a criminal Trump's attacks on McCain exacerbate tensions with Senate GOP MORE.

Freshman Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibHouse Dems unveil measure to reject anti-Israel boycotts Dems concerned impeachment will make Trump 'appear like a victim,' says pollster Officials dismiss criticism that Trump rhetoric to blame for New Zealand attack 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.

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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. GreenThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump attacks on McCain rattle GOP senators Harris to make hard Texas push, recruits key O'Rourke aide: report Pelosi on Trump impeachment: 'You're wasting your time' without GOP buy-in 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.

Sherman told reporters on Monday that he didn't interpret Pelosi's new comments as a change from what she's said in the past. "I mean, I know she said, 'I'm going to make news,' but I don't think she said anything that was surprising news," Sherman said.
 
He acknowledged that public support isn't widespread enough to begin impeachment proceedings, especially since the findings of Mueller's investigation are unknown. But Sherman argued that simply talking about impeachment is a tool in itself.
 
"If we hadn't talked about impeachment, God knows what he would have done," Sherman said, referring to the president. "He has to think about impeachment a little bit, and I'm sure that there are 20 truly ugly things that crossed his mind that he didn't do precisely because we talked about it."

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 Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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 Bosher MaloneyNew York Rep. Maloney endorses Gillibrand for president Pelosi says impeaching Trump 'just not worth it' Dems feel growing pressure on impeachment 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 NadlerFormer White House staffer Hope Hicks to cooperate with Dems' probe into Trump The real reason Nancy Pelosi has backed away from impeachment President Trump should not underestimate Jerry Nadler 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.