House Speaker Nancy Pelosi broke her silence on calls for the impeachment of US President Donald Trump, saying she opposes such a move, even though she believes he is “unfit” for office.
“I’m not for impeachment,” she said in an interview with the ‘Washington Post’ in a statement that is likely to alienate many members of her own Democratic Party intent on ousting the president.
“I haven’t said this to any press person before. But since you asked, and I’ve been thinking about this, impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.”
But Ms Pelosi also said that she does not believe Mr Trump is up to the job of running the country.
Asked if he was fit to be president, she countered, “Are we talking ethically? Intellectually? Politically? What are we talking here?”
“All of the above. No. No. I don’t think he is,” she said. “I mean, ethically unfit. Intellectually unfit. Curiosity-wise unfit. No, I don’t think he’s fit to be president of the United States.”
The apparent contradiction shows that Ms Pelosi is well aware of the political risks of impeachment and how pursuit of the president could energise Republican voters ahead of the 2020 election.
Still, her comments will almost certainly infuriate the far-left wing of the party, which has been clamouring to begin impeachment proceedings over controversies ensnaring the Trump administration.
Most House Democrats agree that they should give the chairmen of investigative committees the space to conduct their probes before engaging in serious impeachment discussions.
But Ms Pelosi’s suggestion that she doesn’t support those moves at all because “he’s just not worth it” won’t sit well with some in her caucus.
Her comments come one week after the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over impeachment proceedings, issued document requests to more than 80 people affiliated with the Trump administration, campaign and businesses.
Representative Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the committee, called the requests the first step in a larger probe into obstruction of justice and abuses of power by the president.
Meanwhile, other committees in the House are beginning probes of campaign-time contributions that Mr Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen made to silence women alleging affairs with the president as well as Mr Trump’s plans to build a tower in Moscow and how he managed his private company.
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders yesterday repeatedly refused to say whether Mr Trump really believes Democrats “hate” Jewish people.
Before Mr Trump left the White House on Friday for his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, he said: “The Democrats have become an anti-Israel party. They’ve become an anti-Jewish party, and that’s too bad.”
Later in the day, he told Republican National Committee donors that Democrats “hate” Jewish people, according to a person who heard the remarks and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The comments followed an emotional debate on Capitol Hill about statements made by Ilhan Omar, a Muslim lawmaker from Minnesota who suggested Israel’s supporters were pushing lawmakers to take a pledge of “allegiance” to a foreign country – comments that some viewed as anti- Semitic.
Democrats wrestled for days over whether to call Ms Omar out by name, what other types of bias should be decried in the resolution and whether the party would tolerate dissenting views on Israel.
When the final resolution passed the House, it did not mention Ms Omar by name. Mr Trump called the resolution “disgraceful.”
Ms Sanders refused several times to say whether Mr Trump really thinks Democrats “hate” Jews. “The president has been an unwavering and committed ally to Israel and the Jewish people and, frankly, the remarks that have been made by a number of Democrats and failed to be called out by Democrat leadership is frankly abhorrent and it’s sad,” she said. (© Washington Post Syndication)