Speaker Nancy Pelsosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that while she opposes a rush to impeachment, President TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE is pulling himself into the process by his own conduct.
"Every single day the president is making a case — he's becoming self-impeachable, in terms of some of the things he's doing," Pelosi said during a public interview with The Washington Post.
Pelosi cited the stonewalling efforts by Trump and the administration as the Democrats push forward with a vigorous series of investigations conducted by a handful of committees, including those examining the conclusions of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump has vowed to fight "all the subpoenas"; the Justice Department has declined to release redacted portions of Mueller's report, as requested by Democrats; and last week, Attorney General William BarrBill BarrWoodward: Milley was 'setting in motion sensible precautions' with calls to China Barr-Durham investigation again fails to produce a main event Virginia governor's race enters new phase as early voting begins MORE refused to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.
Pelosi, who has long sought to tamp down a liberal push to impeach Trump, said those actions are part of a larger White House strategy to lure Democrats into launching impeachment hearings before the public is behind it — a scenario that backfired politically on the Republicans when they impeached President Clinton in 1998.
"As I have said, the president is goading us, wants to goad us, into impeachment because he knows, as do I, that that's not a good thing for the country," Pelosi said. "Maybe he knows that, but he knows that I think that, let's put it that way."
Pelosi vowed not to take the bait, emphasizing the need to build a stronger case — and win more bipartisan support — before taking such an aggressive step.
"Impeachment is a very divisive, very divisive course of action to take," she said. "We shouldn't do it for passion or bias; it has to be about the presentation of fact. And it has to be about patriotism, not about partisanship."
Behind Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBiden to raise refugee cap to 125,000 in October Ocasio-Cortez, Bush push to add expanded unemployment in .5T spending plan Angelina Jolie spotted in Capitol meeting with senators MORE (D-N.Y.), the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Wednesday to hold Barr in contempt of Congress, accusing the attorney general of withholding vital information in his redactions of Mueller's report.
Pelosi declined to say if she's planning to hold a floor vote on the contempt resolution, saying she's waiting for the recommendation of Nadler and the Judiciary Committee.
"The next step would be to bring it to the floor," she said. "We'll see what their recommendation is about that."
Some Democrats have pushed to impeach Barr — an idea Pelosi did not rule out.
"Nothing is ever off the table," she said.
But she also suggested the administration's stonewalling efforts are designed to distract the public's attention — and the media's — from broader efforts to undermine the Democrats' legislative agenda on issues even more pressing to the public, like health care, climate change and economic well-being.
"Everyday when they're doing these things, they're taking attention away from other things that they're doing, things we are doing," she said. "Last week, when the attorney general was before the Congress misrepresenting the facts, he was, at the same time, pressing his case to completely eliminate the Affordable Care Act.
"This has an impact on public policy because they are for the special interests."
Pelosi also amplified the Democrats' calls to gain access to Trump's tax returns, which the administration has refused to provide. Some Democrats have said that Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinFormer Treasury secretaries tried to resolve debt limit impasse in talks with McConnell, Yellen: report Menendez, Rubio ask Yellen to probe meatpacker JBS The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Biden rallies Senate Dems behind mammoth spending plan MORE should be held in contempt of Congress, while others have gone a long step further, suggesting Mnuchin should be arrested for noncompliance with a century-old law stipulating the department "shall" release the information upon Congress's request.
Asked how far Democrats would go to get those documents, Pelosi suggested there would be limits.
"We do have a little jail down in the basement of the Capitol," she said to laughter in the audience. "But if we were arresting all the people in the administration, we would have [an] overcrowded jail situation, and I'm not for that."
"There are several options," she added. "One of them is to go directly to court."