“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,” she told The Washington Post. “And he’s just not worth it.”
The Post interview is not the first time Pelosi has spoken against impeachment, though it was arguably one of her stronger takes on the issue. The longtime Democrat has managed to be very careful approaching the impeachment conversation in the past, usually either deflecting questions or saying she’ll make her mind up when there is enough evidence to impeach Trump.
In February 2017, Pelosi said Trump’s behavior is “strategically incoherent” but “not grounds for impeachment.”
“When and if he breaks the law, that is grounds for when something like that would come up,” she said at a press conference about Trump’s efforts to undermine financial regulations.
In November 2017, Politico reported that the then-House minority leader told lawmakers she had reached out to Need to Impeach Founder and Democratic megadonor Tom Steyer to tell him his $10 million ad campaign calling for Trump’s impeachment was a distraction.
As recently as January, Pelosi swatted down impeachment questions, saying the bar needed to be very high for any sort of consideration of impeachment.
“If there’s to be grounds for impeachment of President Trump ― and I’m not seeking those grounds ― that would have to be so clearly bipartisan in terms of acceptance of it before I think we should go down any impeachment path,” Pelosi told USA Today at the time.
When there was a Republican majority, the House also repeatedly voted down Trump impeachment resolutions, despite dozens of Democrats voting in favor of them. Before the vote on a resolution that failed in December 2017, Pelosi asked Democrats to hold off, citing the special counsel’s Trump investigation and calling the vote a distraction from efforts to kill the Republican tax bill.
Pelosi told NBC on Monday that she’s “always been opposed” to impeachment. But her opposition is more meaningful now that there’s a new Democratic House majority fired up to unseat the president.
Hours after her swearing-in ceremony, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) made headlines when she said, “We’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the motherf**ker.”
Steyer released a statement later Monday condemning Pelosi’s comments in the Post interview, though he only focused on one part of her quote.
“Speaker Pelosi thinks ‘he’s just not worth it?’ Well, is defending our legal system ‘worth it?’ Is holding the president accountable for his crimes and cover-ups ‘worth it?’ Is doing what’s right ‘worth it?’” Steyer said. “Or shall America just stop fighting for our principles and do what’s politically convenient?”
Pelosi is not alone in hesitating on impeachment. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said on “Meet the Press” in January that he believes impeachment “is certainly not appropriate right now.”
Pelosi stressed to the Post that while she does not believe the country should impeach the president, Trump is still “ethically,” “intellectually” and “curiosity-wise” unfit for the presidency.
“No, I don’t think he’s fit to be president of the United States,” she said. “And that’s up to us to make the contrast to show that this president ― while he may be appealing to your on your insecurity and therefore your xenophobia, whether it’s globalization or immigrants ― is fighting clean air for your children to breathe, clean water for them to drink, food safety, every good thing that we should be doing that people can’t do for themselves.”