Pelosi downplays impeachment post-Mueller report

Pelosi downplays impeachment post-Mueller report
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Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiKlobuchar shuts down idea a woman can't beat Trump: 'Pelosi does it every day' Budowsky: Trump destroying GOP in 2018, '19, '20 On The Money: Senate scraps plan to force second shutdown vote | Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny | McConnell rips House Dems for holding up trade deal MORE (D-Calif.) sought to tamp down the notion of impeaching President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE in the wake of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerHouse impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' MORE's report, indicating to Democrats ahead of a conference call later Monday that they have other options.

House Democratic leaders are grappling with a caucus divided over how to proceed after Mueller found several instances of Trump potentially obstructing justice.

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"While our views range from proceeding to investigate the findings of the Mueller report or proceeding directly to impeachment, we all firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth. It is also important to know that the facts regarding holding the President accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings," Pelosi wrote in a letter to House Democrats.

"As we proceed to uncover the truth and present additional needed reforms to protect our democracy, we must show the American people we are proceeding free from passion or prejudice, strictly on the presentation of fact."

Pelosi emphasized that the caucus will continue with its investigative efforts.

"As to the President’s conduct, we will scrupulously assert Congress’ constitutional duty to honor our oath of office to support and defend the Constitution and our democracy. That includes honoring the Article I responsibility of the legislative branch to conduct oversight over the other branches of government, unified in our search for the truth and in upholding the security of our elections."

House Democrats will convene via conference call at 5 p.m. in their first caucus-wide gathering since holding a retreat in Leesburg, Va., before the Easter break.

Some liberal lawmakers have endorsed impeachment proceedings in the wake of the release of Mueller's partially-redacted report last Thursday, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSteyer, Biden clash over climate credentials Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny Sanders doubles down on Bolivia 'coup,' few follow suit MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (D-Mass.), who is running for president. 

Top committee chairmen haven't ruled out the possibility of impeachment while stressing that their investigations will continue.

“Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMaloney wins House Oversight gavel House Judiciary Committee approves landmark marijuana legalization bill Maloney wins vote for Oversight chairwoman MORE (D-N.Y.) told NBC’s "Meet the Press" on Sunday. 

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffNunes's facial expression right before lawmakers took break from Sondland testimony goes viral Sondland brings impeachment inquiry to White House doorstep Maloney wins House Oversight gavel MORE (D-Calif.) outlined the dilemma for Democrats during an interview on ABC's "This Week."

"I think what we’re going to have to decide as a caucus is what is the best thing for the country. Is the best thing for the country to take up an impeachment proceeding because to do otherwise sends a message that this conduct is somehow compatible with office or is it in the best interest of the country not to take up an impeachment that we know will not be successful in the Senate because the Republican leadership will not do its duty? That’s a very tough question and I think is one we ought not to make overnight," Schiff said.

Nadler last week issued a subpoena for the full, unredacted version of the Mueller report. And Democrats rejected an offer from Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrGOP rep predicts watchdog report on alleged FISA abuses will find 'problems' Barr defends Trump's use of executive authority, slams impeachment hearings GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse MORE for a limited number of leadership members and committee chairs to view the report, insisting that more lawmakers should be able to see it as well. 

Republicans have largely echoed President Trump in claiming the Mueller report offers exoneration because it did not find conclusive evidence of the Trump campaign colluding with the Russian government's 2016 election interference efforts. Only a handful of Republicans have expressed concerns about the report's detailing of Trump attempting to undermine the investigation, such as Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump FDA pick dodges questions on Trump's flavored vape ban Congress feels heat to act on youth vaping Progressive Democrats ramp up attacks on private equity MORE (R-Utah), who said he was "sickened."

Pelosi blasted Republicans for siding with Trump. In her past remarks watering down the notion of impeachment, Pelosi has said that any such effort would have to be bipartisan in order to feasibly go forward.

"Whether currently indictable or not, it is clear that the President has, at a minimum, engaged in highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior which does not bring honor to the office he holds. It is also clear that the Congressional Republicans have an unlimited appetite for such low standards. The GOP should be ashamed of what the Mueller report has revealed, instead of giving the President their blessings," Pelosi wrote in the letter.