Nancy Pelosi gambles on impeachment call

Image: Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at an Economic Club of Washington on March 8, 2019. Copyright Manuel Balce Ceneta AP
By Chuck Todd and Mark Murray and Carrie Dann with NBC News Politics
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First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.


WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is taking impeachment off the table for Democrats — at least unless something dramatically changes.

"Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there's something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don't think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he's just not worth it," she told the Washington Post.

This might be the best political decision for Democrats heading into 2020.

It changes the conversation away from impeachment, gives at-risk Dems a shield when asked the I-word question, and places the burden on Republicans (if Trump's getting impeached, it will take GOP votes to do it).

But is it the right decision for history, especially if you believe the president of the United States has committed crimes before we even get to the Mueller report?

And are Democrats convinced they have the upper hand against Trump in 2020? Or is the race more like a 50-50 contest?

Maybe Pelosi's answer on impeachment was just to buy her party additional time before the Mueller report.

But if so, she oversold that. "I don't think we should go down that path, because it divides the country" sounds pretty definitive.

And don't be surprised if Trump tries to use those words to his advantage when the going gets tough for him on the Mueller/legal front.

Beto makes his move

Yep, it sure looks like Beto O'Rourke's running for president.

The former Texas congressman is heading to Iowa this weekend to campaign for a Democratic state Senate candidate, per NBC's Garrett Haake, Kailani Koenig and Vaughn Hillyard.

And the Hawkeye State is abuzz that he's signed up a top Iowa political consultant.

Also, Haake, Koenig and Hillyard report that O'Rourke's team has had conversations about potential campaign staff positions in New Hampshire, according to multiple Democrats connected to the state.

Tweet of the day

Trump's entitlement problem

One of the secrets to Donald Trump's success in 2016 — especially in the Midwest — was that he took entitlements like Medicare and Social Security off the table for Democrats.

"Hillary Clinton is going to destroy your Social Security and Medicare. She even wants to give your benefits to illegal immigrants," he said on the campaign trail on Nov. 6, 2016. "I am going to protect and save your Social Security and your Medicare."

But is that now back on the table with the Trump administration's budget from yesterday?

"Trump's 10-year budget unveiled Monday calls for more than $845 billion in reductions for Medicare, aiming to cut 'waste, fraud and abuse' in the federal program that gives insurance to older Americans," the Washington Post writes. "It's part of a broader proposed belt-tightening effort after deficits soared during the president's first two years in office in part due to massive tax cuts for the wealthy."

The Trump administration insists these are not CUTS to Medicare. "Medicare spending will go up every single year by healthy margins, and there are no structural changes for Medicare beneficiaries," acting OMB Director Russell Vought said.


But as the Post points out, Trump's proposed Medicare savings "are more than three times as large as those in his previous budget, and industry lobbying groups said the reductions would hurt hospitals and seniors."

2020 Vision: Guess who's coming to breakfast in New Hampshire?

None other than Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who will speak at the "Politics & Eggs" speaker series on April 23, the Baltimore Sun writes.

"For months, some so-called 'Never Trump' Republicans have been urging Hogan to run in a 2020 primary challenge against President Donald Trump," the paper adds. "The governor has largely demurred, without closing the door completely to the possibility."

On the trail today

Joe Biden addresses the International Association of Firefighters, who will be encouraging the former vice president to run in 2020.

"You're going to see, 'Run Joe Run,' the gold and black 'Firefighters for Biden,'" IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger told NBC's Mike Memoli. "We'll be doing everything to show where we stand. And then, it's up to him to make his final decision."


Data Download: The number of the day is … 46 percent

Forty-six percent — that's the percentage of Democrats who backed Bernie Sanders in 2016 who say that they'll support him in 2020, according to a new Monmouth University poll.

And that's compared with just 14 percent of Democrats who backed Hillary Clinton in the last election who say they're getting behind Sanders for the upcoming nomination fight.

With about half of his previous coalition scattering between other candidates like Joe Biden (15 percent), Kamala Harris (8 percent) and Elizabeth Warren (6 percent), it's not clear that Sanders will enjoy the same level of support from Democrats four years after his insurgent bid. But, the pollsters note, that assessment assumes that Biden is in the mix — and maintains his expected high levels of backing from Dems after he gets in.

The Lid: If you poll it, they will come

Don't miss the pod from yesterday, when we did a deep dive into what the Des Moines Register poll did (and did not) tell us about the Democratic field.

ICYMI: News clips you shouldn't miss

Paul Ryan is warning that Trump could lose in 2020 if he doesn't focus on policy.


It's official: The Democratic convention will be in Milwaukee.

At a private retreat, former VP Dick Cheney challenged Mike Pence on the Trump administration's foreign policy moves.

Yep, there's more Tucker Carlson audio. (And Fox News isn't backing down.)

Stay tuned for an important Brexit vote in Parliament today.

Other news stories you should check out…


Trump agenda: Adios

The pulling remaining diplomatic staff from the embassy in Venezuela.

The Trump administration wants to pull $8.5 billion out of the education budget.

Trump's proposed cuts to Medicare are inserting health care squarely into the 2020 contest.

Concern about the NRA's rhetoric on its TV apparatus is coming from inside the house.

Steve Bannon is heading to Cincinnati to rally for the border wall.


The White House isn't commenting on the president's reported comments that Democrats "hate" Jews.

Right to Rise super PAC is facing a big fine for accepting illegal donations from Chinese nationals.

Republicans are looking for a way out of a conflict with the White House over the emergency declaration.

2020: Is Stacey Abrams now eyeing the White House?

Pollsters are struggling to measure the huge 2020 field — with high stakes looming for the Democratic debates.

A state Senate race in Iowa is attracting presidential hopefuls (including Beto!)


Kirsten Gillibrand is standing by her office's handling of a sexual harassment claim.

POLITICO asks if we're about to get a Biden v. Warren rematch.

Stacey Abrams says 2020 is "definitely on the table."

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