President Donald Trump suggested on Friday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was compelled to move forward with an impeachment inquiry because she is afraid of defying self-proclaimed “radical” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) (AOC) and her so-called “Squad.”
“They all vote with AOC and plus three; Nancy Pelosi is petrified of them,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “I mean, she’s afraid that she is going to lose her position. Nancy Pelosi will lose her speakership right after the election when the Republicans take over the House.”
Trump’s remarks were in reference to the four progressive House Democrats, dubbed the “Squad,” who have been notoriously critical of the president and the Republican Party, as a whole. The Squad, consisting of Ocasio-Cortez and Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), have been demanding Trump’s impeachment since any of the quartet were even in Congress.
Pelosi announced that House Democrats would be moving forward with an impeachment inquiry after a whistleblower’s complaint accused Trump of asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden for using his position as vice president to remove a Ukrainian prosecutor who was looking into his son’s business dealings there.
The reports were not confirmed at the time of Pelosi’s decision and her announcement failed to expressly articulate a single “high crime or misdemeanor” that the impeachment inquiry was based upon. It was not until a day later that the White House released a transcript of Trump’s exchange with Zelensky. After the transcript was made public, many have argued that it failed to show the direct quid pro quo that was initially alleged.
However, only days prior to kicking off the inquiry, Ocasio-Cortez notably blasted her own Democratic leadership for its refusal to impeach Trump over his “lawbreaking behavior” — which she claimed was a “national scandal.” At the time, the New York congresswoman did not provide any clarity on what crime Trump allegedly committed.
On Friday, Trump was questioned whether he believes he will ultimately be impeached by the Democrat-led House, but nonetheless felt confident that the Republican-backed Senate would acquit him.
“Well, I think … [w]e have a great relationship in the Senate,” Trump replied. “I have a 95% approval rating in the Republican Party. I believe the Senate, and I haven’t spoken to that many senators, but I believe the senators look at this as a hoax, it’s a witch hunt, it’s a disgrace.”
“It should have never happened. Just like Russian collusion delusion should have never happened — that was a witch hunt. And just like that, should have never happened,” he continued. “So I think in the Senate, I think they feel that the Republican Party has been treated very very badly. Now, in the House, they have the majority.”
Democrats have been sidestepping the requirement to bring impeachment proceedings to a full vote on the House floor. More than 30 members of the House Democratic caucus represent congressional districts that voted for Trump during the 2016 election cycle. The Democratic Party largely gained its House majority after a wave of the party’s moderate candidates were elected in those purple districts during the 2018 election cycle.
With the 2020 election on the horizon, many of the more moderate House Democrats have feared that voters’ distaste for impeachment could put the House majority back in the hands of the GOP.