March 26, 2019

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If Not Trump, Then Who? Pelosi Fuels Impeachment Debate With Long Implications

If Not Trump, Then Who? Pelosi Fuels Impeachment Debate With Long Implications
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In effect, though, Ms. Pelosi’s articulated standard then leaves impeachment in the hands of the president’s own party. So long as Mr. Trump retains strong support among Republican voters, the White House feels confident that Republican senators will stick with him, which is why the president routinely emphasizes polls showing his standing with his conservative base. In the latest Gallup survey, 90 percent of Republicans approved of Mr. Trump’s performance.

Ms. Pelosi’s conclusion, which repeated in harder terms views that she has expressed previously, roiled many in her own party, where many liberals are eager to impeach the president. Tom Steyer, the California billionaire donor who has been leading a pro-impeachment advocacy campaign, quickly issued a statement on Monday rejecting the speaker’s assessment.

“I disagree with her,” Representative Juan C. Vargas, Democrat of California, said on Tuesday. “The Constitution is clear: If there’s an impeachable offense, we should impeach the president or impeach whoever. And that’s what we should do: Follow the Constitution and not politics.”

Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, who has vehemently declared that “we’re going to impeach” Mr. Trump, said that she would continue to press for investigations that could lead to that. “Speaker Pelosi has always encouraged me to represent my district, has never told me to stop, has never told me to do anything differently, ever,” she said.

Some in the party leadership, however, bristled at the pressure to impeach from newly elected liberals like Ms. Tlaib, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. “We’ve got 62 new members,” snapped Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader. “Not three.”

But even some impeachment advocates acknowledged the practical reality behind Ms. Pelosi’s position. “We won’t actually remove this president until Sean Hannity calls for us to remove this president. Or until Laura Ingraham,” said Representative Brad Sherman, Democrat of California, who has already introduced articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump. “Until we drive home our message, change public opinion and develop more facts.”

At the White House, the speaker’s comments offered an opportunity to claim vindication while driving a wedge among the opposition. “I’m glad that she sees what the rest of us see and that there’s no reason, no cause for impeachment,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Tuesday on Fox News.

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