Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters Tuesday that she believes President Donald Trump is "goading" Democrats into starting impeachment proceedings against him, so that he can use the possibility of impeachment to electrify his base ahead of the 2020 presidential elections.
Speaking to an audience at Cornell University in New York City, Pelosi suggested Trump wants Democrats to further divide the electorate.
"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's not entirely wrong. One of the primary reasons Democrats like Pelosi have purposefully avoided the question of impeachment is because it confers no electoral benefit on Democrats while giving President Trump ammunition for his claim that the opposition party has abrogated its duty to pass legislation in favor of engaging in a witch hunt.
Pelosi has been at the forefront of a handful of Dems working to stop the party's more aggressive partisans, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) from drafting articles of impeachment against the president. The effort has, so far, worked, but even Pelosi seems to believe she may not be able to hold off impeachment forever.
In March, according to CNN, Pelosi said that impeachment was "just not worth it." In recent weeks, following the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, her statements have been more vague. On Tuesday, she told the audience that "we have to see where the facts take us."
"Every day, he's obstructing justice by saying this one shouldn't testify and that one shouldn't testify and the rest. So he's making the case, but he's just trying to goad us into impeachment," she added. "And wherever you go, I say to my colleagues, whatever it is, be ready. And whatever it is, we'll be ready."
She also noted that the House Democrats have no plans to stop pursuing the question of whether Trump's 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russian officials to alter the outcome of the 2016 presidential election simply because Mueller's 22-month, million-dollar investigation, which involved dozens of interviews and document requests, turned up no evidence that any member of Trump's campaign was involved in a secret plan to deny Hillary Clinton the White House.
The Mueller report, Pelosi claims, "left a raft of unanswered questions about coordination between the president's campaign and Russia. These are not trivial or political questions -- they go to the wellspring of our democracy. When a President is allowed to violate the law with impunity, and when a foreign power is allowed to interfere in our elections, it gnaws at the roots of the great oak that is our democracy, and could very well topple it."
On Wednesday, Pelosi repeated her story to The Washington Post's Robert Costa, adding that she believes that any impeachment proceedings the Democrats might decide to bring will be the president's own fault.
“He’s becoming self-impeachable in terms of some of the things he’s doing,” she told the Post. “Every single day, whether it’s obstruction, obstruction, obstruction, obstruction of having people come to the table with facts or ignoring subpoenas. Every single day, the president is making a case."
On Wednesday, the Democrats held a vote declaring Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, triggering what is likely to be a prolonged legal battle over the president's habit of "ignoring" the Democrats' purposeless subpoenas.