Pelosi says impeaching Trump 'just not worth it'

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiUS praises British ban on China's Huawei after pressure campaign Voter fraud charges filed against GOP Rep. Steve Watkins Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel MORE (D-Calif.) made her strongest comments to date on impeachment, saying in a new interview that President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pitches Goya Foods products on Twitter Sessions defends recusal: 'I leave elected office with my integrity intact' Former White House physician Ronny Jackson wins Texas runoff 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 CohenDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Nadler: Barr dealings with Berman came 'awfully close to bribery' Michael Cohen taken back into police custody MORE.

Rep. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James Sherman70 progressive groups call for next Foreign Affairs chair to reflect 'progressive realism' House passes bill to sanction Chinese banks over Hong Kong security law The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - As virus concerns grow, can it get worse for Trump? 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 ComeyRobert Mueller casts a Stone — but he can't erase larger concerns Trump on possible Roger Stone pardon: 'His prayer may be answered' How conservative conspiracy theories are deepening America's political divide MORE.

Freshman Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOver 570 women registered to run for office, topping 2018 record Democrats see victory in Trump culture war The Hill's Campaign Report: Colorado, Utah primary results bring upsets, intrigue 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 Memo: Trump's race tactics fall flat Trump administration ending support for 7 Texas testing sites as coronavirus cases spike The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Miami mayor worries about suicide and domestic violence rise; Trump-governor debate intensifies 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 (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout 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 MaloneyDemocrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' Trump commutes Roger Stone's sentence New York candidates left on hold as primary results trickle in 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 NadlerHouse GOP lawmaker tests positive for COVID-19 Texas Democrat proposes legislation requiring masks in federal facilities Nadler: Barr dealings with Berman came 'awfully close to bribery' 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.