Pelosi surprised by uproar over latest impeachment remarks

Pelosi surprised by uproar over latest impeachment remarks
© Stefani Reynolds
Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Deal on defense bill proves elusive | Hill, Holmes offer damaging testimony | Trump vows to block Navy from ousting officer from SEALs On The Money: Trump signs short-term spending bill to avoid shutdown | Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 | California high court strikes down law targeting Trump tax returns Wasserman Schultz makes bid for House Appropriations Committee gavel MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday sought to defuse the uproar over her recent comments opposing the impeachment of President TrumpDonald John TrumpWatergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book Obama: 'Everybody needs to chill out' about differences between 2020 candidates MORE, noting that her latest remarks were identical to those she's espoused since Trump took office.
"I made the comment that I made because I make it every week," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol, referring to her interview with The Washington Post. "I've made it [in] July, August, September, October. I've made it all through the campaign. I made it in our transition. And I've made it every week."
Pelosi caused a commotion Monday when the Post published its interview with her, conducted last week, in which she argued that impeachment is "so divisive" that it should be avoided "unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan," that it becomes an inescapable step.
Trump, she added, is "just not worth it."
The message was similar to comments Pelosi has made in the past, when she's sought to tamp down any talk of impeachment among her caucus to allow for several ongoing investigations — including that of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE — to reach their conclusions.
Pelosi was on Capitol Hill when House Republicans voted to impeach former President Clinton before the GOP had public sentiment on its side — a move that backfired on Republicans at the polls in the next election — and she doesn't want to give the same boost to Trump and the GOP heading into 2020.
Still, the Post interview raised plenty of eyebrows because Pelosi adopted a slightly different tone in challenging the impeachment movement. Some liberal activists, including the billionaire impeachment advocate Tom Steyer, were quick to push back.
"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?’ " Steyer said in a statement shortly after the interview was published. "Or shall America just stop fighting for our principles and do what’s politically convenient."
Pelosi on Thursday acknowledged the variation in framing she adopted in the Post interview, but insisted her approach to impeachment hasn't changed.
"It didn't seem to catch on until it had a gimmick: 'He's not worth it.' Boom! — it explodes," she said. "So some of you have said to me, 'Why are you saying this now?' Because I've said it almost every day. But if I frame it that way, it gets more attention. So I wasn't getting worried about anything."
Pelosi this year has been largely successful in urging the members of her caucus to put impeachment on the back burner while House Democrats use their newly won majority to launch a long string of investigations into the many controversies surrounding Trump and his administration.
Pelosi has left open the possibility of launching impeachment hearings against Trump — a message she repeated on Thursday. But Democrats, she quickly emphasized, will prioritize the campaign promises they made during the 2018 midterms, including efforts to lower health care costs, boost middle class wages and strengthen ethics rules in Washington.
"Our focus is on what we said we would do: health care, job creation, cleaner government, gun safety, issues like that. And it is not worth our time to take our attention from that," she said. "And if I'm somebody in the public who is feeling that financial pain, and I see us focusing on one thing or another — but not on my financial interests — that is not a source of hope for people."
She said she'll reevaluate the question "if the Mueller report comes back with information."
"I don't think we should impeach a president for political reasons, and I don't think we should not impeach a president for political reasons," Pelosi said. "But you have to be ironclad, in terms of your facts. And we'll see where that takes us."