Pelosi says Trump is 'becoming self-impeachable'

The House speaker's remark came as the congressional showdown with the president over executive privilege escalated sharply.
Image: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at the Washington Post Live event in Washington on May 8, 2019.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a Washington Post Live event in Washington on Wednesday.Clodagh Kilcoyne / Reuters

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By Rebecca Shabad and Leigh Ann Caldwell

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Wednesday that President Donald Trump is “becoming self-impeachable” because of his administration's noncompliance with subpoenas and other requests by House chairs.

“The point is that every single day, whether it’s obstruction, obstruction, obstruction — obstruction of having people come to the table with facts, ignoring subpoenas. ... Every single day, the president is making a case — he’s becoming self-impeachable, in terms of some of the things that he is doing,” she said at a Washington Post Live event in Washington.

Pelosi made a similar comment to House Democrats in their closed-door weekly conference meeting Wednesday morning, elaborating on the remark. "The times have found us, each and every one of us and we have to handle as we go forward in the most prayerful, patriotic, calm, reasoned way," she said.

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"I just said to the Washington Post, they had a town hall meeting this morning, I said to them, the president is self-impeaching. He’s putting out the case against himself, he’s putting out the case against himself. Obstruction, obstruction, obstruction. Ignoring subpoenas and the rest," Pelosi told rank-and-file members, according to a Democratic aide in the room who asked not to be identified because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly.

"So, he’s doing our work for us in a certain respect," Pelosi added.

It remains unclear whether Pelosi's comment implied any shift in the current Democratic stance.

Pelosi has largely veered away from discussing the prospects of impeachment proceedings publicly, telling the Post in March that impeaching Trump is “just not worth it.” After the release of the redacted Mueller report, Pelosi held a conference call with other Democratic leaders and rank-and-file members and while leadership promised to pursue aggressive investigations into Trump, they did not commit to beginning impeachment proceedings.

"Trump is goading us to impeach him," she said at an event in New York City hosted by the Cornell University Institute of Politics and Global Affairs. "That's what he's doing. Every single day, he's just like taunting, taunting, taunting because he knows that it would be very divisive in the country, but he doesn't really care. He just wants to solidify his base."

Pelosi’s remark came shortly before the White House took the significant step of exerting executive privilege over all materials related to the Mueller investigation, and as the House Judiciary Committee was set to vote on a resolution over whether to recommend that the House hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress.

“I think she was making two points: The president seems to be encouraging us to go down the road of impeachment and we need to be cautious about that; and, secondly, he indicts himself all the time especially on the issue of obstruction of justice,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va.

While most of the House Democratic caucus is supportive of Pelosi’s approach, many of her members back imminent impeachment proceedings. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., said that Pelosi was not changing her posture on holding off on impeachment, but that it seemed more House Democrats are starting to believe that the process might not be avoidable.

“I think the caucus probably is moving toward the feeling that impeachment may be inevitable,” Yarmuth said.