President Donald Trump, who is refusing to cooperate with more than 20 congressional investigations, instructed current and former aides Wednesday to ignore a House committee’s request for documents in the latest act of defiance that has prompted Democrats to declare the nation is facing a constitutional crisis.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told Democrats in a closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday morning to stick to their policy agenda ahead of the 2020 election rather than initiate impeachment proceedings. And not a single lawmaker challenged her.
The events underscored that Pelosi has managed to hold the line on her no-impeachment stance despite Trump’s ongoing resistance and relentless liberal pressure for Democrats to try to oust the Republican president. Most notably, she has quelled an internal clamor and kept even the most vocal impeachment proponents and eager investigators in check along with committee leaders as Democrats increasingly look to the courts to settle the fight between Congress and the chief executive.
In the nearly hourlong, closed-door session heavily focused on health care, Pelosi was the only one to bring up impeachment, acknowledging that some Democrats are complaining.
“Why aren’t we impeaching the president?” she said, parroting their words. “Why aren’t we impeaching him? They get a little down,” she said of frustrated members of her party.
“The point is that we need to show (voters) that we are doing all of these other things that they care about so much,” Pelosi said. Not a single lawmaker in the room protested.
In the latest example of the president’s resistance, the White House told House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., that it was refusing a broad demand for records and testimony sent to 81 Trump allies and affiliated companies.
In his letter, White House counsel Pat Cipollone repeated a claim the White House and Trump’s business have begun making – that Congress is not a law enforcement body and does not have a legitimate purpose to investigate the questions it is pursuing.
Before the White House letter, Nadler seemed to walk a fine line on impeachment during a CNBC interview, saying Trump is making it “increasingly difficult” to avoid it but also arguing that the House is probably not headed in that direction.
“It depends on what comes out,” Nadler said. “It depends where the American people are, whether they want to go that way or not. I don’t want to make it sound as if we’re heading for impeachment. Probably we’re not.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week”: “We are already a bitterly divided country, and an impeachment process will divide us further.”
Democrats have issued numerous subpoenas in their investigations as they seek documents and witnesses related to Trump’s businesses, his tax returns and details on administration policies. The president and senior officials have refused to comply.