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Pelosi downplays impeachment post-Mueller report

Pelosi downplays impeachment post-Mueller report
© Greg Nash - UPI Photo

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels Top Republican: 'Outrageous' to extend National Guard deployment at Capitol Progressives won't oppose bill over limits on stimulus checks MORE (D-Calif.) sought to tamp down the notion of impeaching President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot Intelligence community investigating links between lawmakers, Capitol rioters Michelle Obama slams 'partisan actions' to 'curtail access to ballot box' MORE in the wake of 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'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-CortezProgressives won't oppose bill over limits on stimulus checks Bipartisan bill would ban lawmakers from buying, selling stocks The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - J&J vax rollout today; third woman accuses Cuomo MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenPhilly city council calls on Biden to 'cancel all student loan debt' in first 100 days Hillicon Valley: High alert as new QAnon date approaches Thursday | Biden signals another reversal from Trump with national security guidance | Parler files a new case Senators question Bezos, Amazon about cameras placed in delivery vans 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 NadlerHillary Clinton brings up 'Freedom Fries' to mock 'cancel culture' House sets vote for George Floyd police reform bill Jim Jordan calls for House Judiciary hearing on 'cancel culture' MORE (D-N.Y.) told NBC’s "Meet the Press" on Sunday. 

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse Democrats want to silence opposing views, not 'fake news' White House defends not sanctioning Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi What good are the intelligence committees? 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 BarrBill BarrPolitics in the Department of Justice can be a good thing Majority of Republicans say 2020 election was invalid: poll Biden administration withdraws from Connecticut transgender athlete case 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 RomneyRon Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many Romney's TRUST Act is a Trojan Horse to cut seniors' benefits Republicans, please save your party 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.