Pelosi presses Dems to focus on agenda post-Mueller

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden attends first church service as president in DC, stops at local bagel shop More hands needed on the nuclear football Sunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus MORE (D-Calif.) and other House Democratic leaders on Tuesday pressed their caucus to focus on its legislative agenda days after special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE concluded his investigation without making any new charges against President TrumpDonald TrumpMore than two-thirds of Americans approve of Biden's coronavirus response: poll Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor Mexico's president tests positive for COVID-19 MORE or figures in his administration.

Pelosi said the party should focus on lowering health care costs and the rest of their policy agenda, and she urged her caucus to stay focused on the tasks ahead at a closed-door caucus meeting.


"This is really important today. Because we must with all that is going on stay focused on our purpose," Pelosi said, mentioning "lower health care costs, bigger paychecks and cleaner government.

"And thank you to the caucus for staying focused in that way," Pelosi added, according to an aide in the room.

Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesUS Chamber of Commerce to stop supporting some lawmakers following the Capitol riots Lawmakers mount pressure on Trump to leave office Sunday shows - Capitol siege, Trump future dominate MORE (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, did not even refer to the Mueller report in his opening statement at a press conference after the closed-door caucus meeting, instead focusing on health care issues.

Mueller's findings were a blow to Democrats, and the White House has used them to go on offense, arguing the media and Democratic lawmakers overinflated stories about a Trump-Russia conspiracy.

A four-page summary of the report from Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump pressed DOJ to go to Supreme Court in bid to overturn election: report Budowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Two-thirds say the election was fair: poll MORE stated that Mueller's investigation didn't find evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential election. Barr's memo also said that Mueller did not conclude whether Trump obstructed justice, though it said the findings also did not exonerate him.

Pelosi's message after the deflating news was for her caucus to keep their heads down and work, even as she indicated that investigations launched by Democratic chairmen will continue.

"Be calm. Take a deep breath. Don't become like them," Pelosi said, referring to Republicans. "We have to handle this professionally, officially, patriotically, strategically."

"Let's just get the goods," Pelosi added.

She also put a positive spin on the end of the Mueller probe, noting it had resulted in a number of indictments.

"Some people are viewing it as a glass half-full, glass half-empty. I think half-full. There's so many indictments that came out of what he did. People will go to jail from what his investigation is about," Pelosi said in the closed-door meeting.

Pelosi and Democrats received a political gift of sorts from Trump on Monday when the administration backed overturning ObamaCare in its entirety as part of a continuing lawsuit in the courts.

Democrats believe they won the House majority last fall in part on health care, and the Trump administration's legal position of backing ObamaCare's complete destruction is something the party believes it can use against the GOP on the campaign trail.

It also gave Democrats something else to talk about on Tuesday besides Mueller's report.

Pelosi reiterated her push for a release of the full Mueller report, arguing that a summary from a political appointee like Barr should not be the final word.

"We have to see the report. We cannot make a judgement on the basis of an interpretation by a man who was hired for his job because he believes the president is above the law and he wrote a 19-page memo to demonstrate that," Pelosi said.

That theme — that Barr is a biased judge who lacks the credibility to make determinations about Mueller’s report on his own — was being echoed by Democratic leaders across the Capitol Tuesday morning. The Democrats are quick to note that Barr, a former attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, delivered an unsolicited letter to the Justice Department last year seeking to dissuade Mueller’s investigation into potential obstruction of justice.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Congressional leaders present Biden, Harris with flags flown during inauguration LIVE INAUGURATION COVERAGE: Biden signs executive orders; press secretary holds first briefing MORE (D-Md.) said Democrats "believe the attorney general indicated his bias" with that letter. And Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffBiden to keep Wray as FBI director Biden urged to reverse Pompeo-Trump move on Houthis Angus King warns of 'grave danger' of Trump revealing classified information MORE (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the four-page summary is "not adequate," since it "may be colored by the attorney general's personal views."

Earlier this month, the House passed a resolution 420-0, with four Republicans voting "present," calling for the Mueller report to be made available to the public and Congress.

In the meantime, Democrats are also focusing on their investigations of the Trump administration, many of which do not relate to Russian election interference.

“Our investigations across the board continue full speed ahead and the agenda, we're working on the agenda. Most important of all it continues full speed ahead — those are the messages. We'll use whatever tools we have to make sure that report is provided to Congress and to the American people,” said Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyTrump's assault on the federal government isn't over LIVE COVERAGE: House votes to impeach Trump after Capitol insurrection Trump era bows out with scorched-earth drama in divided GOP MORE (D-Va.).

Schiff has come under particularly intense fire from Republican leaders, since he had made public statements before the conclusion of the Mueller report suggesting there was already evidence of "collusion" between Trump and Russia. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyBiden attends first church service as president in DC, stops at local bagel shop House GOP leader says he has 'concerns' over Cheney's impeachment vote McCarthy says he told Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene he disagreed with her impeachment articles against Biden MORE (R-Calif.), among other Republicans, have pushed for Schiff to lose his seat atop the Intelligence Committee.

Schiff on Tuesday dismissed the effort as a partisan messaging tactic — one he intends to ignore.

"I'm used to attacks from the president and his allies in Congress," he said, "so this is really nothing new and nothing unexpected."

Hoyer also came to Schiff's defense, saying the California lawmaker is “going to be chairman of that committee for a long time to come."