In a closed-room meeting on Monday, House Democratic leadership, including members of the House Judiciary Committee battled with Speaker Nancy Pelosi over impeaching Donald Trump, or at the very least opening an inquiry into impeachment, according to multiple reports.
As Politico reported, Reps. David Cicilline, Jamie Raskin, and Joe Neguse all pushed Pelosi to consider impeachment, while Pelosi allies Reps. Rosa DeLauro, Ben Ray Lujan, Hakeem Jeffries, and Cheri Bustos argued against it. The Washington Post reported that House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler also pushed Pelosi to open impeachment proceedings in a separate meeting, which she declined to do.
Pelosi has repeatedly waved away the notion of impeachment in public, sometimes in bizarre terms. She has said that Trump is “goading” Democrats to impeach him, that she doesn’t want to do so unless it’s “unavoidable,” and even that impeachment is “too good” for Trump. Her top deputy, Steny Hoyer, said in April that the 2020 election could function as an effective form of impeachment.
In the meeting with the leadership team, Pelosi reportedly asked Cicilline if he wanted to end the various House investigations already happening.
“You want to tell Elijah Cummings to go home?” Pelosi asked, according to Politico.
Cicilline later told the Post that opening an impeachment inquiry could strengthen the House’s legal position in their investigations.
“It’s a fact-finding process,” he said. “There’s no doubt that opening an inquiry strengthens the hand of Congress in forcing compliance with subpoenas, whether it’s for documents or individuals.”
Pelosi reportedly pointed to a ruling by a federal judge on Monday that backed a subpoena by the House Oversight Committee of Trump’s accounting firm as proof that the investigations will produce results.
Rep. Steve Cohen made one of the most forceful, and somewhat cringeworthy, arguments for impeachment. Cohen reminded Pelosi that former President Bill Clinton was impeached “over sex” while Trump was getting away with “raping the country.” Cohen confirmed to Politico that he made the statement. Alright dude!
Cohen also accused Pelosi of avoiding an impeachment inquiry because she was afraid of losing the House again in 2020.
“This isn’t about politics at all. It’s about patriotism. It’s about the strength we need to have to see things through,” Pelosi replied, an aide at the meeting told Politico.
But other representatives were concerned by news that the White House would not allow White House Counsel Don McGahn to attend a House meeting on Tuesday.
“If McGahn doesn’t show tomorrow, I think we’re at an inflection point,” Rep. Ted Lieu agreed. “If we can’t get information, I think we have to start proceeding down this path.”
Pelosi questioned why McGahn should represent a line in the sand. Democrats “have invested this much time,” she said, according to Politico. “I don’t know why we would say McGahn, that’s it.”
But, of course, the White House’s decision to block McGahn’s hearing is far from their only effort to impede the House’s investigations. They’re currently blocking 20 investigations by the House, including Democrats’ attempts to obtain the president’s tax returns. They’ve also fought against subpoenas of the president and his son, ignored the subpoena of Attorney General William Barr, and delayed special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony, just to name a few instances of obstruction.
It’s almost certain that McGahn will not show up for his scheduled testimony today. If that’s the case, it seems that the fractures among Democrats in the House may become even wider.