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Pelosi's impeachment skepticism draws little pushback from fellow Dems

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi meets with reporters during her weekly news conferencel in Washington, on March 7, 2019. -
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J. Scott Applewhite AP file
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WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comment this week that impeaching President Donald Trump might not be "worth it" found some early backing — and little vocal pushback — among the House Democratic majority, despite the rising number of members who support removing the president from office.

A number of the California Democrat's colleagues echoed her point, arguing that impeachment would be too divisive. Some dismissed the significance of the comment itself, saying it was no different from her previous statements on the matter. Others said House Democrats should focus instead on demonstrating that they can govern by promoting a progressive agenda. And those Democrats who disagreed with Pelosi avoided direct criticism of her remark.

"I think Speaker Pelosi is doing exactly what she should be doing, which is focusing on making sure that we can propose and implement our agenda," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., told reporters Tuesday morning. "We have to make sure we wait for all the facts. And I think there's no one in this Congress, certainly on our side faced with clear evidence that any president [that] had committed high crimes and misdemeanors, that we wouldn't pursue the appropriate actions — but we're not at that point."

The reaction followed what appeared to be Pelosi's clearest comments yet on her view of Trump's potential impeachment.

"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," she said in an interview with the Washington Post published Monday. "And he's just not worth it."

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., agreed with Pelosi.

"I certainly agree that in the absence of very compelling evidence that either Mueller produces or we're able to find, gaining the bipartisan support necessary, impeachment, to be successful, would be enormously difficult," Schiff told reporters Monday night. "While I don't exclude that possibility, I don't think we should put the country through impeachment without that amount evidence."

Many Democrats said that Pelosi has not changed her tune on impeachment, pointing out that she has not yet ruled it out.

"She said essentially what I've been saying. We're not nearly there yet. We may or may not get there," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.

Others took pains to disagree with Pelosi without directly criticizing her statement.

"I wouldn't go as far as the Speaker," said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., in an interview with CNN Monday. "If we're presented with compelling evidence that the president committed impeachable offenses, I think we have to vote for impeachment."

"Impeachment is going to come together," said House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., when Americans "are absolutely demanding it, and you have some Republicans who can't take it anymore and some of us who have the courage to do it."

"I think he probably ought to be impeached because of the budget document he sent up to the Hill yesterday, but that's another story," Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., chairman of the House Budget Committee, said on CNN.

"I think we have a situation, I fully understand where Speaker Pelosi is coming from, she makes valid points but in my opinion if impeachment is to mean anything — and it's in the Constitution for a reason — it's because when we see evidence of impeachable offenses we need to start the process to remove the president from office."

Democrats have largely steered clear of public impeachment chatter, including after the public testimony by Trump's former fixer and personal attorney, Michael Cohen, while Republicans have argued that Democrats will use their power in the House to push impeachment.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Tuesday that it's "smart" for Pelosi to make the comment about impeachment, while House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said it proves Pelosi isn't in control of her own conference, many of whom back the idea.

In an interview with CNBC Tuesday, McCarthy said, "Now what she said was correct. How can you impeach somebody over not having broken any rules for impeachment."

"I think what Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Pelosi was trying to do is tell her conference this is the wrong path to take, I believe it's wrong to do, and try to slow the train down because they have no basis for impeachment but they just want to do it for a political reason," he said.