Pelosi presses Dems to focus on agenda post-Mueller

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' Trump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' Overnight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record 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) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE concluded his investigation without making any new charges against President TrumpDonald John TrumpBooker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Booker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Trump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

"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 JeffriesHouse Democrats close to finalizing border aid bill House Democrats close to finalizing border aid bill House hearing marks historic moment for slavery reparations debate 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 BarrWilliam Pelham BarrPelosi says she will view less-redacted version of Mueller report Pelosi says she will view less-redacted version of Mueller report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump's reelection message: Promises kept 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 HoyerHouse Democrats close to finalizing border aid bill House Democrats close to finalizing border aid bill Hoyer expects reparations bill to get a floor vote MORE (D-Md.) said Democrats "believe the attorney general indicated his bias" with that letter. And Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHillicon Valley: Senate sets hearing on Facebook's cryptocurrency plans | FTC reportedly investigating YouTube over children's privacy | GOP senator riles tech with bill targeting liability shield | FAA pushed to approve drone deliveries Hillicon Valley: Senate sets hearing on Facebook's cryptocurrency plans | FTC reportedly investigating YouTube over children's privacy | GOP senator riles tech with bill targeting liability shield | FAA pushed to approve drone deliveries Democratic rep warns artificial intelligence is being used to 'target vulnerable populations' 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 ConnollyThe Hill's Morning Report - Is US weighing military action against Iran? The Hill's Morning Report - Is US weighing military action against Iran? Dems eye repeal of Justice rule barring presidential indictments 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 Owen McCarthyGOP hopes dim on reclaiming House GOP hopes dim on reclaiming House Republicans raise concerns over House campaign arm leadership 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."