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WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday that a decision on whether the House pursues the impeachment of President Donald Trump will be made in a “timely fashion” and denied the idea that she is trying to “run out the clock” on the issue.
Her comments came shortly before House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said at a separate press conference that his panel has already "in effect" been conducting an impeachment inquiry of the president — and said in a court filing that “articles of impeachment are under consideration as part of the Committee’s investigation, although no final determination has been made."
“No, I’m not trying to run out the clock,” Pelosi said at her final weekly press conference before she departs Washington for the House’s six-week summer recess.
Asked how long the Democrats’ court fight might take, Pelosi would not lay out a timeline. “We will proceed when we have what we need to proceed — not one day sooner,” she said.
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office Friday afternoon, Trump slammed Democratic "impeachment nonsense."
"These people are clowns," he said. "The Democrats are being laughed at all over the world. I watched Nancy Pelosi tried to get through that with the performance that Robert Mueller put on where I don't think he ever read the agreement, or document...."
"There's no collusion, there's no obstruction. It's a disgrace," said Trump, who said that Congress should look into a book deal made by former President Obama, rather than investigate him, which he said they were doing "for political reasons."
Democrats are seeking to enforce subpoenas in court for certain documents in their investigation, as well as testimony from witnesses, all of which the administration has not complied with. This includes requests for six years of the president's tax returns.
“Everybody has the liberty and the luxury to espouse their own position and to criticize me for trying to go down the path in the most determined, positive way,” she said. “Again, their advocacy for impeachment only gives me leverage.”
Pelosi said that former special counsel Robert Mueller “confirmed” in his public testimony before two House committees Wednesday “that the president has obstructed justice.” Democrats are pursuing information through the courts in order to investigate the president’s finances, she added, which had not been part of the scope of the Mueller probe.
“A decision will be made in a timely fashion,” she said, appearing to refer to the impeachment process. “This isn’t endless, and when we have the best, strongest possible case and that’s not endless either.”
But soon after Pelosi spoke, Nadler said Friday that his committee has “in effect” already been conducting an impeachment inquiry of Trump.
Flanked by Judiciary Committee members who’ve voiced support for an impeachment inquiry, Nadler was asked by NBC News to clarify whether the Judiciary Committee has already initiated such an inquiry.
“Whether you call that an inquiry, or whatever you want to call that, that’s what we’ve been doing,” Nadler said, later adding that they have already been conducting one “in effect.”
“I think too much has been made of the phrase 'impeachment inquiry,'” he said.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a constitutional law expert who has voiced support for such an inquiry, also said an effort of some kind was essentially underway. “A lot of people believe that we have been in an impeachment inquiry ..." he said. "I would say we are in an impeachment investigation.”
Nadler announced during the press conference that he would be going to court later in the day to ask for the grand jury information within the 448-page Mueller report, which he said will help determine whether they decide to impeach Trump. In the filing, the committee planned to say that “articles of impeachment are under consideration as part of the Committee’s investigation, although no final determination has been made.”
“Because Department of Justice policies will not allow prosecution of a sitting president, the United States House of Representatives is the only institution of the federal government that can now hold President Trump accountable for these actions,” Nadler said, reading directly from the petition he was filing in court. “To do so, the House must have access to all of the relevant facts and consider whether to exercise its full Article I powers including a constitutional power of the utmost gravity — recommendation of the articles of impeachment.”
Asked about the divisions within the committee and the overall Democratic caucus on impeachment, Nadler pointed to the process. “If our committee is going to recommend articles of impeachment to the House, we must make the strongest possible case both to our colleagues and the American people,” he said.
“We may decide to recommend articles of impeachment, we may not,” he said. “That remains to be seen.”
According to an NBC News count, 97 Democrats and one independent support opening an impeachment inquiry of the president. This group includes 14 of the 24 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, which has the power to initiate the inquiry.
Nadler also said Friday that unless former White House counsel Don McGahn cooperates with the committee, he plans to go to court early next week to enforce a subpoena for his testimony.