Pelosi: Trump is "engaged in a cover-up," as AOC, Waters demand impeachment

Nancy Pelosi came out of today’s House Democratic caucus meeting talking tough, but perhaps carrying a soft gavel. Pelosi accused Donald Trump of being “engaged in a cover-up” in remarks as she emerged from the meeting. However, other reports suggested that Pelosi successfully reined in mavericks that wanted to go full throttle on impeachment:

“Engaged in a cover up” sounds kind of … impeach-y, no? Well, no, actually, as Manu Raju reported shortly afterward. Pelosi gave voice to the frustration of activists within the caucus, but pulled more support together for a go-it-slow approach from the meeting. Even Jerrold Nadler seemed less enthusiastic for impeachment than his recent public pronouncements suggest, and momentum appears to have solidified behind Pelosi’s strategy:

Pelosi hinted at this in the same clip as her “cover-up” allegation. “Would you believe,” Pelosi quipped in praising the current committee-investigation efforts, “that it’s important to follow the facts?” Of course, but many voters thought that was what Robert Mueller already did, too. Democrats spent the better part of two years demanding protections for Mueller in order for him to “follow the facts” all the way to the end of his investigation and report. Now that he’s accomplished that, Democrats now want to argue that Mueller’s efforts don’t matter and that they need a “do-over,” in Trump’s own words.

Nevertheless, Pelosi appears to have quieted the “impeachment now!” mini-revolt that appeared in her caucus over the last couple of weeks. Those calls haven’t gone away entirely, however:

The revolt included at least one committee chair among the backbenchers:

Sources in the room said Pelosi sat stoically while House Financial Service Chairwoman Maxine Waters — a longtime impeachment advocate — broached the subject in front of the 235-member caucus, during a closed door meeting in the Capitol.

Waters told colleagues the House has a responsibility to impeach Trump, and she mentioned her own efforts to access Trump’s financial records from Deutsche Bank. Pelosi responded by pointing to various House committees’ efforts to win court battles against Trump and hold administration figures accountable without taking more dramatic steps. …

As she exited the meeting, Waters said, “All I can tell you is I’m for impeachment, I’ve always been, I’ve never changed my mind.”

But other Democratic leaders held firm that impeachment had ramifications for the upcoming election.

In the end, Pelosi prevailed and the impeachment chorus was quieted, at least for now. However, Pelosi’s reaffirmed grip may not let Mueller off the hook. Raju also reports that Nadler will not accept a compromise with the special counsel to testify in closed session, insisting that Mueller has to testify publicly:

It seems unlikely that Mueller will agree to this in the current climate around the House Judiciary Committee. Of course, Pelosi might prevail upon Nadler to take a less aggressive posture with Mueller, similar to what appears to have been her influence on Adam Schiff this morning with William Barr. Nadler has to know, though, that Mueller’s not going to say anything far afield than what Mueller put in his report, or for that matter what happened to it when it went to the Attorney General. If Mueller was unhappy with how Barr handled it, he’s had nearly six weeks to say so publicly, and has remained silent. And at any rate, Congress has had access to the report with Mueller’s own redactions for several weeks, which means they can make up their own minds about it.

Until the partisan whirlwinds die down, don’t expect Mueller to be enthusiastic about responding to a subpoena. And so far, Pelosi seems willing to only quell those partisan whirlwinds to the point where impeachment remains just out of reach.