Dems flock to Pelosi on Trump impeachment

House Democrats are largely flocking to the side of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNegotiators hit gas on coronavirus talks as frustration mounts Hillicon Valley: NSA warns of new security threats | Teen accused of Twitter hack pleads not guilty | Experts warn of mail-in voting misinformation Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package MORE as the California Democrat seeks to tamp down any talk of impeaching President TrumpDonald John TrumpMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Trump camp considering White House South Lawn for convention speech: reports Longtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary MORE.

Pelosi's latest remarks on impeachment, reported Monday by The Washington Post, have upset some liberal activists — and amplified the media’s focus on the topic — amid a series of controversies dogging Trump and his administration.

But all the attention has done virtually nothing to grow the underlying impeachment effort on Capitol Hill, as even some of the loudest impeachment voices rallied behind Pelosi’s strategy of insisting on bipartisan support before taking such a drastic step.

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“I think that we won't actually remove this president until Sean Hannity calls for us to remove this president or until Laura Ingraham [does] — until we drive home our message, change public opinion,” said Rep. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanSherman joins race for House Foreign Affairs gavel Castro launches bid for House Foreign Affairs gavel The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump, GOP senators at odds over next stimulus bill MORE (D-Calif.), who reintroduced his articles of impeachment against Trump on the first day of the new Congress in January. “We need that level of popular support.”

Sherman stressed that he believes “this president has not only committed felonies, but is harmful to the country,” but he acknowledged “just because I think he should be removed doesn't mean that Senate Republicans agree.”

Pelosi’s recent interview with the Post was conducted last week amid bitter Democratic infighting over controversial comments from Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarLongtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary Police committed 125 human rights violations during Floyd protests: Amnesty Trump campaign rolls out TV spots in early voting states after advertising pause MORE (D-Minn.) about Israel. In it, Pelosi reiterated her long-standing position that impeachment should have bipartisan support, both in Congress and outside of it. She added one new beat to her argument: Trump, she said, is simply “not worth” the trouble. 

“I’m not for impeachment. This is news. I’m going to give you some news right now because I haven’t said this to any press person before. But since you asked, and I’ve been thinking about this: 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. And he’s just not worth it,” Pelosi said.

By amplifying her position, Pelosi provided cover for moderate Democrats in swing districts, including vulnerable freshmen who recently solidified the party’s House takeover and don’t want to alienate voters who also backed Trump.

“I am one of 31 Democrats that comes from a district that Donald Trump won. I can tell you, we don't go home talking about impeachment every weekend,” Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosRep. Steve Watkins loses Kansas primary after voter fraud charges Democrats go big on diversity with new House recruits DCCC adds six candidates to program aimed at flipping GOP-held seats MORE (D-Ill.), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairwoman, told CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday. “And not only that, we don’t hear from people that we represent talking about impeachment at every turn.”

A small group of Democrats did break with Pelosi, saying there's already plenty of evidence to deem Trump unfit for office and the House should move quickly on impeachment.

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) staged a string of media events on Tuesday to make the case for ousting the president.

Rep. John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthGOP, White House struggle to unite behind COVID-19 relief House seeks ways to honor John Lewis Karen Bass's star rises after leading police reform push MORE (Ky.), a de facto member of leadership as Budget Committee chairman, told CNN’s “New Day” that “we are essentially in the beginning of an impeachment process.”

And freshman Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibLongtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary The Hill's Campaign Report: Even the Post Office is political now | Primary action tonight | Super PACS at war Five primary races to watch on Tuesday MORE (Mich.) said she will still introduce new articles of impeachment before month's end.

“No one, not even the president, should be above the law,” Tlaib said.

Broadly speaking, however, there appears to be even less appetite for impeachment this year, versus the last Congress when almost 20 Democrats had co-sponsored impeachment bills.

Green has not yet introduced his articles of impeachment, as he had in the last Congress, and has given no indication when he’ll do so. Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenDemocrats exit briefing saying they fear elections under foreign threat Texas Democrat proposes legislation requiring masks in federal facilities Pelosi throws cold water on impeaching Barr MORE (D-Tenn.), who had also championed an impeachment resolution in the last Congress, has also held his fire this year. Cohen holds the gavel of a key subcommittee on the Judiciary panel and is vowing to push for investigations into the administration — the strategy Pelosi favors. And Sherman’s resolution so far has only one co-sponsor: Green.

Tlaib framed her impeachment resolution — which will focus largely on allegations that Trump has used the White House to promote his businesses and enrich himself — as a first step in the broader investigation of those charges.

“That doesn't mean we're voting on it. It means we're beginning the process to look at some of these alleged claims,” she said.

Asked if she's “disappointed” with Pelosi's position, Tlaib was terse.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “Speaker Pelosi has always encouraged me to represent my district, has never told me to stop, has never told me to do anything differently — ever.”

Green renewed a pledge he first made a month ago to force another House floor vote on impeaching Trump and dared Democratic leaders to try to stop him. He has yet to offer a timeline or introduce the articles of impeachment.

Green previously forced two procedural votes on impeachment, in 2017 and 2018, while Republicans controlled the House. Neither effort succeeded, but they drew the support of 58 Democrats in December 2017 and eight more a month later. 

“If you desire to stop me, you but only have to change the rules so that I can't bring a vote on impeachment. Otherwise I will, because the Constitution and the rules allow any one person to bring a vote on impeachment,” Green said in an interview on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.”

Green also dismissed the notion that Democrats should wait until Republicans endorse impeaching Trump.

“If we wait on Republicans who are not going to buy in, then there won't be any impeachment,” Green said at a press conference in his Capitol Hill office.

But key committee chairmen leading investigations into Trump and his associates backed up Pelosi.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package House Intelligence panel opens probe into DHS's involvement in response to protests Democrats exit briefing saying they fear elections under foreign threat MORE (D-Calif.) said it’s possible that the investigations conducted by the special counsel or his own panel could produce findings compelling enough to begin impeachment proceedings. But Schiff warned that moving with impeachment without bipartisan consensus would ultimately backfire as a “partisan exercise doomed for failure.”

“The only thing worse than putting the country through the trauma of an impeachment is putting the country through the trauma of a failed impeachment,” Schiff said at a breakfast Tuesday morning hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden comes to Washington to honor John Lewis Lawmakers set for tearful goodbye to John Lewis We have 100 days to make our nation right MORE (D-Md.) similarly said that he thinks Pelosi is “absolutely right.”

“We've got a lot of research that we still need to do,” Cummings said.

Morgan Chalfant contributed.