As of Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was steadfast in her commitment not to impeach the president, informing NPR that she was not prepared to bring forth proceedings, but was open to changing the law to allow for “future presidents” to be indicted while in office if they commit “a wrongdoing.”
But it’s been a long weekend. As Trump’s Ukraine scandal has unfurled over the last few days, Pelosi has taken steps that put her a just little closer to the path of impeachment, issuing a rare Dear Colleague letter on Sunday. In the brief sent to all members of Congress, the speaker states that if the Trump administration continues to block acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire from giving Congress the “full complaint” filed earlier this year by a whistleblower in the intelligence community, then the administration will “be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will takes us into a whole new stage of investigation.”
To recap the complicated and developing scandal, Pelosi is referring to a complaint filed by an intelligence officer in August involving a call Trump made to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, reportedly encouraging him to investigate the business dealings of Joe Biden’s son in the country — an exchange that Trump admitted to on Sunday. In her letter, Pelosi also demanded that Maguire “establish a path for the whistleblower to speak directly to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees as required by law.” On Thursday, Intelligence Community inspector general Michael Atkinson declined to give Congress the whistleblower’s complaint that broke open the scandal, an act that Adam Schiff called “unprecedented.”
Over the weekend, Democrats also mulled over employing the congressional power to hold witnesses in contempt, an act that hasn’t been used in almost 100 years. House Judiciary member Ted Lieu weighed in favor of contempt, tweeting that if Maguire does not comply, the House must also “have procedures in place to use the inherent contempt powers of Congress,” adding, “We cannot have a repeat of the Lewandowski hearing.” Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee was more enthusiastic: “I say do it,” he told the Washington Post. “Let them argue in court that they take the position that it’s legally questionable. We back off of everything! We’ve been very weak.”
Elsewhere in the party, representatives grew more frustrated at Speaker Pelosi’s unwillingness to impeach the president for his repeat constitutional offenses. “At this point, the bigger national scandal isn’t the president’s lawbreaking behavior — it is the Democratic Party’s refusal to impeach him for it,” tweeted Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. House Democrats in favor of impeachment currently number at 138 — a majority of the caucus.