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Democrats hedge on Trump impeachment after inflammatory remarks

Image: Rashida Tlaib
Rashida Tlaib leaves a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus in the Capitol on Jan. 4, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) Copyright Tom Williams
Copyright Tom Williams
By Allan Smith with NBC News Politics
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"I wouldn't have said it that way," Democratic Rep. Adam Smith of Washington said.


Democrats on Sunday continued to put an arms length between themselves an a freshman congresswoman's inflammatory remark about impeaching President Donald Trump.

At a progressive event following a swearing-in ceremony on Thursday, Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan was recorded saying "we're going to go in there" and "we're going to impeach the motherf-----!"

Tlaib stood by her remarks, saying she is for impeaching Trump.

"I ran on that," she said. "It's probably exactly how my grandmother, if she was alive, would say it."

Democratic leaders, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said impeachment was not an inevitability and that they wanted to wait for special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation to be completed before contemplating further moves. In defending their colleague, some Democrats said the comments were nothing worse than remarks made by the president, which include calling a porn star who alleged an affair with him "horseface," nicknaming Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California "little Adam Schitt," and, most infamously, his comments from a 2005 "Access Hollywood" recording in which he said he could "grab" women "by the p----."

Speaking with NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said he believes any discussion of impeachment at the moment is a "distraction."

"We'll have to see what the Mueller report says," said the Maryland Democrat.

Washington Democratic Rep. Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told ABC's "This Week" that he doesn't believe Democrats are pushing impeachment "too far too fast," adding that Tlaib "represents a constituency that has every right to be angry at President Trump."

During an interview with CNN's "State of the Union," Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama said he did not believe "any" of his constituents would approach him and make such a remark.

"They know better than to use that kind of language about the president of the United States, regardless of the coarse language that the president uses in public," he said, adding, "My folks don't say that."

Schiff, speaking on the same program, said he was in a unique place to respond because of Trump having given him a profane nickname. "I really think it's premature for Democrats to be talking about what the remedy ought to be before we know the full body of evidence," he said.

Reacting to Tlaib's remarks, Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island said in an interview with "Fox News Sunday" that Democrats have a "big and diverse" caucus where "people are bringing their passions and reflecting the strong feelings of their constituents."

"And there are a number of people who think we should move quickly on impeachment," he added. "I'm one of the people who think we have to wait for Mr. Mueller to complete his report so we know all the facts before we take any action."

Asked to condemn the language, Cicilline said he would not.

"Look, it's kind of odd to hear people on the Republican side who have not condemned the president's language in a million of different contexts to suddenly be clutching their pearls over her use of that language," he said. "Like, look, this is a private event, she can use whatever language she thinks is appropriate."


Trump responded to Tlaib's comments on Friday, saying he thought "she dishonored herself and her family using language like that in front of her son and whoever else was there."

On Sunday, Trump's acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said he was happy to hear some Democrats give a bit of distance between themselves and Tlaib's comments.

"I think people can be coarse as clearly this member of Congress is," Mulvaney said on CNN's "State of the Union." "By the way, very glad to see some of my former Democrat colleagues distance themselves from that type of language."

Mulvaney added that Trump "does use coarse language in private a lot with us."


"Many people do," Mulvaney said. "But no, I don't think anybody blames the president for the coarsening of the language."

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