WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed Thursday that the country is in a “constitutional crisis” because of the Trump administration’s stonewalling a day after the Judiciary Committee voted to cite the attorney general for contempt of Congress.
Pelosi (D-Calif.) also said at her weekly briefing that other committees might hold administration officials in contempt for refusing to comply with requests in House investigations, but she said that any move toward impeachment would be fact-based and methodical.
“I do agree with Chairman Nadler because the administration has decided that they are not going to honor their oath of office,” Pelosi said of Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), who heads the House Judiciary Committee.
“We are now in a constitutional crisis,” Nadler said after his committee voted along party lines Wednesday to cite Attorney General William Barr for contempt of Congress for refusing access to the unredacted Mueller report and evidence — a vote taken after President Donald Trump issued his first claim of executive privilege to shield the entire report from Congress.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) dismissed Democrats’ concerns.
“The only crisis we have is the majority of this Congress,” he said.
Pelosi continues to take a cautious approach to impeaching Trump, calling for a very methodical approach.
“I think that what we want to do is get the facts. We want to do it in a way that is the least divisive to our country and the most productive,” she said.
“Impeachment is one of the most divisive things that you can do, dividing a country, unless you really have your case with great clarity for the American people,” she said. “We won't go any faster than the facts take us or any slower than the facts take us.”
On the timing of the full House taking up the contempt citation against Barr, Pelosi said, “When we're ready, we'll come to the floor. And we'll just see, because there may be some other contempt of Congress issues that we want to deal with at the same time.”
Some current and former White House officials are refusing to turn over requested documents by House committees – including former White House counsel Don McGahn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who rejected requests for six years of Trump tax filings.
That fight could extend to the Republican-controlled Senate after the Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. to return to answer more questions — drawing a sharp rebuke from the president, who expressed surprise at the request.
“We’re fighting all the subpoenas” Trump said last month. “These aren’t, like, impartial people. The Democrats are trying to win 2020.”
That hardline attitude was repeated Thursday by Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney when he was asked on CBS News if the president never intended for Congress to see the entire Mueller report and evidence.
“Yeah, I would think so. I mean, they're not entitled to see them,” said Mulvaney, who added that access to the underlying evidence being demanded “is where we sort of draw an even firmer line.”
Mulvaney, a former congressman, acknowledged THAT Congress can do oversight, but he added, “That doesn't mean they get to second-guess the Department of Justice.”