House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not currently support impeaching President Donald Trump despite thinking that he’s unfit for the country’s highest office, according to a Washington Post magazine interview published Monday.
“I’m not for impeachment,” Pelosi said. “This is news. I’m going to give you some news right now because I haven’t said this to any press person before. But since you asked, and I’ve been thinking about this: Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.”
The California Democrat also said that Trump is “ethically,” “intellectually,” and “curiosity-wise” unfit for office.
“No, I don’t think he’s fit to be President of the United States,” she said.
Pelosi’s comments published Monday are perhaps her strongest yet against the issue, but the speaker has signaled for months her resistance to pushing for impeachment.
“It’s not someplace that I think we should go,” Pelosi said on CNN’s “State of the Union” in November 2017 when asked whether Democrats would seek to oust the President if they regained the majority.
The comments come days after House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler announced a sweeping investigation, sending letters to 81 people and entities – including the White House, the Justice Department, senior campaign officials, Trump Organization officials and the President’s sons – into possible corruption, obstruction of justice and abuses of power. Democrats say they’re conducting the rigorous oversight of the administration that Republicans refused to do the first two years of Trump’s presidency.
While Pelosi’s comments may help Democrats in competitive districts distance themselves from a divisive topic, they could frustrate some of those now in the middle of congressional investigations.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, told CNN he’d “put it differently” than Pelosi.
“The Constitution calls for impeachment in cases of bribery, treason and other high crimes and misdemeanors,” he said. “So the legal case should indeed be compelling, the evidence should be overwhelming and the politics should be bipartisan. He may not be worth it but of course that’s not the standard. The country is certainly worth it if the Constitution and the public interest demand it.”
“There have, of course, been cases when impeachment investigations have been unifying, as with Richard Nixon,” Raskin added.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told CNN that he agreed with Pelosi and that a “failed impeachment isn’t a good idea.” The California Democrat added it doesn’t make sense to move down that road “in the absence of very graphic evidence.”
A few Democratic members of Congress have already introduced articles of impeachment. Last week, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a freshman Democratic lawmaker from Michigan, said she would file such a resolution this month, claiming “every single colleague” of hers believed that the President has committed impeachable offenses. Rep. Brad Sherman, who has drafted articles of impeachment against the President, disputed Pelosi’s comment that Trump “isn’t worth it.”
“You don’t impeach Trump for him, you impeach Trump for the Constitution,” Sherman, a California Democrat, told reporters.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat and a member of House leadership, said that pro-impeachment House Democrats “attract extraordinary amount of attention” even though there are only a “handful” of them.
“At the end of the day, there are 239 members of the House Democratic caucus and the overwhelming majority of those members have made clear that we should proceed with caution with respect to impeachment,” Jeffries said.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy embraced Pelosi’s remarks, arguing Democrats have no basis to impeach the President and are just trying to damage his political prospects.
“I think the speaker is correct in saying they won’t impeach him,” he said.
This story has been updated with additional developments Monday.
CNN’s Ashley Killough, Jeremy Herb, Manu Raju and Elizabeth Landers contributed to this report.