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Pelosi: U.S. in constitutional crisis, several contempt charges being weighed

“This is very methodical. It’s very Constitution-based,” she said Thursday of the House's investigative push. “It’s not about pressure — it’s about patriotism.”
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WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that she agrees with a veteran Democratic lawmaker that the country has now entered a "constitutional crisis" — but said she still wants her party to be “methodical” in their investigations of President Donald Trump, rather than rush to launch the impeachment process.

“Yes, I do agree with Chairman Nadler, because the administration has decided that they are not going to honor their oath of office,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference, referring to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.

Asked how such a crisis is not changing her thinking or calculus on impeachment, the House speaker said that Democrats first have to go through the investigative process to uncover facts and the truth.

“This is very methodical. It’s very Constitution-based, it’s very law-based, it’s very factually based,” she said. “It’s not about pressure — it’s about patriotism.”

While Democrats are still trying to game out their next steps in the House, they are considering holding a package of contempt votes and sending them to the courts as a single package, according to Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.

Some Democrats have raised the idea of holding former White House counsel Don McGahn, for example, in contempt, for not complying with a subpoena to provide certain documents related to the Mueller investigation to Congress, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin for rejecting a formal request from the Ways and Means Committee to provide six years of Trump’s tax returns.

Pelosi herself — who declined to say when she will hold a House floor vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, which the House Judiciary Committee recommended during a vote Wednesday — confirmed she was considering that approach.

“In terms of timing, when we’re ready, we’ll come to the floor,” she said. “There may be some other contempt of Congress issues that we’ll want to do at the same time." She added that Nadler wants to do it as soon as possible "and so do we.”

Pelosi referred to the Watergate scandal, saying Republicans at the time had “months of hearings and investigations before they got to a place where they had a compelling argument” for impeachment and persuaded President Richard Nixon his time was over, leading to his resignation.

“Impeachment is one of the most divisive things that you can do, dividing the country, unless you really have your case with great clarity for the American people,” she said.

She acknowledged that rank-and-file members within the House Democratic caucus are showing “enthusiasm” for impeachment, repeating her remark from Wednesday that Trump is “self-impeaching” because he’s demonstrating “disrespect” for the congressional right to subpoena people or information.

“It is a path that is producing results and gathering information,” she said of Democrats’ investigative process. “Some of that information is this administration wants to have a constitutional crisis because they do not respect the oath of office that they take to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, three co-equal branches of government, separation of power.”