Nancy Pelosi, the presumptive speaker of the house, spoke ambivalently about possible impeachment proceedings or an indictment of President Donald Trump

By Adam Carlson
January 03, 2019 09:46 AM
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Credit: J Scott Applewhite/AP/REX/Shutterstock

As a new Democratic majority prepared Thursday to take power in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, the presumptive speaker of the house, spoke ambivalently about possible impeachment proceedings or an indictment of President Donald Trump.

Asked in a Today show interview if she believes Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian ties with Trump, could charge him while he is in office, Pelosi replied: “Let’s just see what Mueller does. Let’s spend our time on getting results for the American people.”

But Pelosi said she was not persuaded by the federal government’s position that such an indictment would be an unconstitutional.

“That is an open discussion, I think that is an open discussion in terms of the law,” she told Today‘s Savannah Guthrie.

(While the Department of Justice’s guidelines prevent indicting a president while in office, the issue has not been definitively contested and then decided by the courts.)

With the return of Democrats to a House majority, the Trump administration is set to face significant investigative scrutiny for the first time since the 2016 election.

But Pelosi said she was not rushing toward impeachment proceedings.

“Impeachment would be a sad thing for our country; it would be very divisive,” she told Elle in an interview published on Wednesday.

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“What I’m more interested in is protecting the Mueller investigation, seeing where the facts take us,” she said. So I feel serious and strategic about the prospect of impeachment. If we have to do it, we cannot walk away from our responsibilities. But it’s not something that I’m stirring the pot on.”

She was equally equivocal speaking on Today: “We shouldn’t be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn’t avoid impeachment for a political reason.”

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney, contended in August that the public would “revolt” against any impeachment, according to CNN.

Pelosi is expected to be voted in as speaker of the house — the only woman to hold that position and the only woman to hold that position repeatedly — later Thursday, after which she will be sworn in and give a speech.

The last president to be impeached was Bill Clinton, in 1998, on charges of perjury and obstruction. But he was acquitted in the Senate, as no Democrat voted to convict — a scenario, some observers say, that would be likely to repeat in a Republican Senate should Trump be impeached.