The Slatest

Pelosi Tells Divided Democrats Investigations Are Next Step Post-Mueller Report, Not Impeachment

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi reads from a paper during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol April 4, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urges caution on impeachment.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The public release of the Mueller report last Thursday has Democrats talking impeachment again after the possibility of ousting President Donald Trump from office before the end of his term seemed increasingly remote. Part of that was by design as the party leadership has been cautious throughout and remained so in its approach to possible impeachment proceedings after the Muller findings dropped. The party has pledged to increase the intensity of its probes into all aspects of Trump’s affairs, but on a conference call with the Democratic rank-and-file Monday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the emphasis would remain on those inquiries, rather than immediately mobilizing an effort to impeach the president.

The call came after Pelosi addressed her Democratic colleagues, who are on recess at the moment, in a letter Monday outlining what she sees as the best way to proceed. “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,” Pelosi wrote. “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 and other in the Democratic leadership have been far more reluctant to pursue Trump via impeachment based on the belief that the political cost of such a hearing could undermine the party’s aim of retaking seats in the Senate and the presidency in 2020. The strength of the case for obstruction of justice in the report , however, has pulled the Democrats, by sheer force of Mueller’s findings, closer to impeachment than anticipated. Pelosi, in making the case for prudence on impeachment, stressed that “it is … important to know that the facts regarding holding the president accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings.”

For their part, Republicans have not yet arrived at a strategy of their own following the report and have been largely silent on the issue during the two-week Easter recess. An early preview of the communications strategy trialed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Monday may sound familiar to many Democrats though—move on. “Well, look, I think it’s time to move on. This investigation was about collusion, there’s no collusion, no charges brought against the president on anything else, and I think the American people have had quite enough of it,” McConnell said when questioned during a stop in Kentucky.