House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is opposed to impeaching President Trump, saying in an interview that the process would be too divisive for the country.
"I'm not for impeachment. This is news. I'm going to give you some news right now because I haven't said this to any press person before," Pelosi told The Washington Post Magazine in an interview published Monday. "But since you asked, and I've been thinking about this: 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. And he's just not worth it."
Soon after the interview was published, Pelosi expanded on her remarks that Trump is "just not worth" impeaching. She told reporters that she does not "believe" in impeachment because it "divides the country."
"I just don't believe in it. They wanted me to impeach President Bush for the Iraq War. I didn't believe in it then I don't believe in it now. It divides the country. Unless there is some conclusive evidence that takes us to that place," Pelosi said.
Pelosi reiterated the point she made in her earlier interview, that impeachment would be a distraction from the things Democrats want to accomplish. "That's our agenda, that's our focus -- to take our eye off that ball, it's not worth it," she said. "That's why I say, impeachment, he's not worth it."
Asked about her previous comments that Democrats should wait to see what the Mueller report says, Pelosi reminded reporters that President Nixon was "not impeached -- the Republicans finally saw the light."
In the Washington Post Magazine interview conducted last week, Pelosi added that she doesn't believe Mr. Trump is fit for office: "I mean, ethically unfit. Intellectually unfit. Curiosity-wise unfit. No, I don't think he's fit to be president of the United States."
Since Democrats took control of the House in January, liberal lawmakers and activists have pushed Democratic leadership to pursue impeachment. Billionaire Tom Steyer has, spending tens of millions of dollars on television ads calling on Democrats to begin the process.
In a statement Monday, Steyer reacted to Pelosi's feeling that Mr. Trump is "not worth" impeaching: "Is defending our legal system 'worth it?' Is holding the President accountable 'worth it?' Is doing what's right 'worth it?' Or shall America just stop fighting for our principles and do what's politically convenient?"
Pelosi and Democratic leaders havewhile simultaneously opening wide-ranging investigations into the Trump administration and the president's business practices. The House Judiciary Committee, which would oversee any impeachment inquiry, last week from 81 individuals tied to Mr. Trump as it opened a burgeoning investigation into potential obstruction of justice and abuse of power.
In her interview with The Post, Pelosi reflected on her 32 years in Washington and compared the current political atmosphere to the partisan battles of the 1990s.
"It's very divisive because of the person who is in the White House and the enablers that the Republicans in Congress are to him. It was terrible when we were here in the '90s and [Newt] Gingrich was speaker and impeached the president, Bill Clinton," the speaker said. "There's no question that that was horrible for the country."
Asked if she agreed with those who "feel the nation's institutions are in a perilous state," Pelosi said she didn't share that concern, but emphasized the importance of the coming presidential election.
"Our country is great. It's a great country. Our founders gave us the strongest foundation," she said. "All the challenges we have faced, we can withstand anything. But maybe not two [Trump] terms. So we have to make sure that doesn't happen."
Pelosi said it was up to Democrats to "make the contrast" with the president, but said the issues facing the country are bigger than the current occupant of the White House.
"This is coming across too negatively. I don't usually talk about him this much. This is the most I've probably talked about him. I hardly ever talk about him. You know, it's not about him. It's about what we can do for the people to lower health care costs, bigger paychecks, cleaner government."
With reporting by Bo Erickson