House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) believes President Trump is trying to "goad" Congress into beginning impeachment proceedings because it would "solidify his base."
Pelosi made the remarks at an “Inside Congress” event sponsored by Cornell University’s Institute of Politics and Global Affairs.
"Trump is goading us to impeach him," she said. "That's what he's doing. Every single day, he's just like, taunting, taunting, taunting, because he knows that it would be very divisive in the country, but he doesn’t really care. [He] just wants to solidify his base."
She did not necessarily rule out impeaching the president, observing that her time on the Ethics Committee instilled an understanding of "facts and the law":
"It's the facts and the law and in our case the rules of the House. No hearsay, personal opinions or anything else, it's the facts and the law. And that will take us to the place we need to be."
Pelosi added that former President Richard Nixon was impeached, in part, for ignoring congressional subpoenas, an action Trump has mimicked.
"In the articles of impeachment for Richard Nixon, Article 3 was that he ignored the subpoenas of Congress. That could be part of an impeachable offense. Every day he's obstructing justice by saying this one shouldn't testify, that one shouldn't testify, and the rest. So he's making a case. But he's just trying to goad us into impeachment, and wherever you go, I say to my colleagues — whatever it is, be ready. And whatever it is, we'll be ready. And again, we owe that as a precedent for the future as well."
Observers continue to be divided on whether impeachment would worsen Trump's standing or embolden him––and his base––further. But for every person who agrees with Pelosi's assessment, there are others who are urging she proceed.
The parallel Pelosi drew between Trump and Nixon's disregard for subpoenas comes after Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA), a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, threatened White House officials with “possible incarceration” should they defy Congressional subpoenas to testify as the investigation into the Trump administration continues.
Connolly said that Congress "will use any and all power in our command to make sure it’s backed up — whether that’s a contempt citation, whether that’s going to court and getting that citation enforced, whether it’s fines, whether it’s possible incarceration."
Last month, it emerged that three White House officials have already defied requests from the committee to testify as part of the ongoing investigation. They are White House adviser Stephen Miller, former security clearance official Carl Kline and John Gore, who serves as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
In response to this, Trump called the subpoenas “ridiculous,” insisting: “I have been the most transparent president and administration in the history of our country by far.”
The White House has instructed former White House Counsel Don McGahn not to comply with a subpoena for documents from House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), according to a report from earlier this afternoon. McGahn has opted not to comply, an act which could push Nadler to hold him in contempt of Congress as lawmakers investigate the instances Special Counsel Robert Mueller described in his report that amount to potential obstruction of justice.