Despite intense rifts among party members, an urgent conference call on Monday night led leaders of the House Democrats to back off of the idea to immediately try to launch impeachment proceedings against President Trump. According to Fox News, two senior sources that were involved with the call said that even House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters, who is well-known for being anti-Trump, told her fellow Democrats that even though she was in favor of going through with the impeachment proceedings, she wasn’t going to push other people to do so.
According to Fox News, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her team made it very clear that they weren’t moving forward with immediate plans to attempt to impeach the president. Sources close to the situation said that the phone call lasted for 87-minutes and included over 170 Democrats, including House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings and House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff.
According to sources, during the call, Pelosi said: “We have to save our democracy. This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about saving our democracy. If it is what we need to do to honor our responsibility to the Constitution – if that’s the place the facts take us, that’s the place we have to go.” Pelosi also explained that more investigations were needed: “We don’t have to go to articles of impeachment to obtain the facts, the presentation of facts.”
It’s clear that Pelosi’s comments and the hesitation from Waters are indicators that it’s going to take a lot of persuading to initiate the impeachment proceedings. Last week, Waters seemed to feel a bit differently than she does now, saying that “Congress’ failure to impeach is complacency in the face of the erosion of our democracy and constitutional norms.”
Waters also called out Attorney General Barr, referring to him as a “lackey,” and accusing him of not being “respectful” to Congress. When Barr held a news conference to speak about the Mueller report, he referred to the FBI surveillance on the Trump campaign as “spying,” which irritated Democrats even though he said the important issue was whether the “spying” was properly asserted.
On Monday night, though, Waters’ tone was different and she explained that she was simply saying what her personal feelings were, not demanding impeachment. Currently, Congress is on a two-week recess, causing representatives to be scattered all over the country.
The rift between the Democrats could be seen all over the media on Sunday night. On Fox News Sunday, when Schiff said that the question about impeachment could present a “very difficult decision” that would take “the next couple of weeks to determine.” Rep. Cummings, who was on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” said: “I’m not there yet, but I can foresee that possibly coming.” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer stated that the Democrats would be wise to focus on the upcoming election, instead of trying to impeach Trump.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said while on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that “Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable.” He also added that his committee would “see where the facts lead us.” On Monday, Nadler issued a subpoena for testimony and documents from former White House Counsel Donald McGahn, who went against Trump’s orders to fire Mueller.
While on the conference call, Nadler talked about the subpoena, while announcing that McGahn would be the first person to be called to witness in a new session of public hearings based on the Mueller report and other document requests. Nadler has stated that the hearings are meant to provide the public with a better understanding of how important these matters are. The hearings will also give the public an opportunity to hear what key witnesses have to say about the abuse of power and obstruction that may have been by the president and his team.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are embracing the push to impeach the president. Pelosi acknowledged the undeniable split in a letter to Democrats on Monday. In the letter, Pelosi wrote: “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. It is also important to know that the facts regarding holding the president accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings.” She added: “Whether currently indictable or not, it is clear that the president has, at a minimum, engaged in highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior which does not bring honor to the office he holds.”