In a press conference held while the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, was testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clearer than before that the impeachment inquiry she announced yesterday would — for now, at least — focus exclusively on the president’s dealings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Indeed, she indicated that the House Intelligence Committee would have the primary responsibility for uncovering the facts that might or might not justify actual articles of impeachment (she was adamant that no decision had been made on the ultimate outcome of the “inquiry”).
So for the time being, Jerrold Nadler’s Judiciary Committee (normally the focal point of impeachment proceedings) will be on hold, except for its ongoing investigations of the president and his administration.
Pelosi did hold open the possibility that previous examples of the president’s “lawlessness” could be the subject of impeachment articles if the House went in that direction, as many of those who supported impeachment before the Ukraine scandal broke into public view are insisting upon. But she seemed determined to convey a belief that the public would see Trump’s behavior in the Ukraine incident as reflecting a “different level of lawlessness,” just as she did in “crossing the Rubicon” from opposition to impeachment proceedings to support for them. Despite her repeated claims that the inquiry will simply follow the facts, the speaker expressed her own judgment about Trump’s misconduct unambiguously:
Even as House Republicans attacked her on the subject, Pelosi did not address repeated (though increasingly moot) GOP complaints that she was initiating impeachment proceedings without first securing a formal House resolution. All in all, it’s obvious she wants to keep the heat on Trump & Co. for the Ukraine scandal, and play it as it lays as events unfold. Nothing she’s said precludes a broader impeachment inquiry, but clearly, that’s a decision she is determined to delay.
More on the Trump-Ukraine Scandal
- Trump’s Impeachment Trial and the Verdict of History
- Trump Fires Impeachment Witnesses Alexander Vindman and Gordon Sondland
- Trump Impeachment Hearing Schedule: What’s Next?