House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Yuri Gripas/Bloomberg)

Pelosi and Democratic Leaders Tread Carefully on Impeachment

(Bloomberg) -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top lieutenants said the time isn’t right for the new Democratic-led House to pursue impeachment of President Donald Trump, despite the push within their party’s ranks for such action. They didn’t rule it out, either.

“If and when the time comes for impeachment -- it will have to be something that has such a crescendo in a bipartisan way,” Pelosi said in an interview on “CBS Sunday Morning” broadcast on Sunday.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California suggested buy-in would be needed from Senate Republicans for any House-led impeachment to be anything more than symbolic. He said there’s “no point” in pursuing impeachment before Special Counsel Robert Mueller presents the findings of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Pelosi and Democratic Leaders Tread Carefully on Impeachment

“What’s the point if you don’t know the full case and can’t make the case to the Senate?” Schiff said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that an impeachment process isn’t inevitable and that talk about it now is a distraction. He said Democrats will pursue priorities that includes ethical reforms and protecting voting rights.

“We’ll have to see what the Mueller report says,” Hoyer said. “What we want to do is concentrate on our substantive agenda.”

Party Fissures

The comments came as party fissures over impeachment became more public last week. Freshman Representative Rashida Tlaib drew attention with her expletive-filled call to impeach Trump, and two House Democrats, Brad Sherman of California and Al Green of Texas, re-introduced articles of impeachment in the new Congress.

Schiff downplayed criticism, including from Trump, of Tlaib’s course language. Schiff said Trump “is not in the position to talk about the use of profanity.”

Pelosi and Democratic Leaders Tread Carefully on Impeachment

The new intelligence panel chief said he understood the desire of those in his party to act against Trump now, and he insisted that his committee will not just be waiting for Mueller.

One of its first acts under Democratic control will be to release dozens of transcripts of witness testimony during the committee’s own Russia investigation last session, when the panel was led by Republicans, Schiff said.

Potential Perjury

He said some testimony could potentially open up cases of perjury or lying to Congress, but didn’t provide specifics. “Some of these people thought they had some sort of immunity with the GOP majority at the time,” Schiff said.

Schiff also said his committee will be “reaching out to private institutions to get records,” and he has previously indicated those could include banking records.

The Intelligence Committee’s first public hearing, not yet scheduled, will touch on the rise of authoritarianism around the world, Schiff said. “We don’t have a president who is willing to stand up to these autocrats,” he added.

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