House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday said impeaching President Trump is “not a priority,” despite Michael Cohen’s guilty plea to campaign finance violations that implicated the president.
“Impeachment has to spring from something else,” Pelosi, who has long downplayed the possibility of impeachment, told The Associated Press.
Cohen, who was Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a number of tax and bank fraud charges as well as a campaign finance violation. He said in court that Trump had directed him to arrange payments to two women during his 2016 presidential campaign in exchange for their silence about alleged affairs with Trump.
“If and when the information emerges about that, we’ll see,” Pelosi said. “It’s not a priority on the agenda going forward unless something else comes forward.”
Pelosi said Democrats should focus on oversight of the president and allow special counsel Robert Mueller to finish his work, the AP reported.
The charges against Cohen were brought by the office of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York after a referral from Mueller’s team.
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Tuesday was found guilty of eight charges of bank and tax fraud.
The escalating legal battles against key figures in Trump’s orbit have ramped up speculation about the president’s political and legal future, with some saying Cohen’s guilty plea could serve as grounds for impeachment.
But top Democrats on Capitol Hill aren’t emphasizing that possibility.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a vocal Trump critic and possible 2020 presidential contender, on Wednesday also declined to call for impeachment proceedings, focusing instead on passing legislation that would protect Mueller.
“I think that what Congress needs to do right now is we need to make sure that special prosecutor Mueller is fully protected from being fired by Donald Trump,” Warren said on CNN, adding that the investigation is “much more sweeping” and “broader” than Cohen’s guilty plea.
Democrats in the House previously attempted to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump, but the measure overwhelmingly failed.