Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reportedly told her caucus leaders Tuesday evening that she wants to see President Donald Trump in prison — but that she does not want to undertake impeachment proceedings against him right now.
Politico reported Wednesday evening that “multiple Democratic sources familiar with” a meeting between Pelosi and several party leaders quoted her as telling them: “I don’t want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison.”
Pelosi reportedly pushed back against pressure from House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who has pressed the speaker to approve the start of impeachment proceedings. According to Politico, Pelosi prefers to take a different approach: defeat Trump in the 2020 presidential election, and then prosecute him and send him to prison. (Special Counsel Robert Mueller confirmed last month in a public statement that a sitting president cannot be indicted.)
Politico said that Pelosi was “expressing solidarity with pro-impeachment Democrats who want to hold the president accountable while disputing the idea that it is now time to take that step. Pelosi has long argued that certain conditions must be met before Democrats begin impeachment — public support and strong bipartisan backing, neither of which have so far materialized.” Only about one in three Americans favor impeaching Trump, according to recent polls.
Throughout the 2018 campaign, Pelosi struggled to tamp down expectations that Democrats would impeach Trump, believing that voters would recoil from impeachment, as they did in the Bill Clinton era. Impeachment was “not a priority,” she said in August 2018.
However, calls of impeachment continue to mount — including from almost every Democratic presidential candidate — despite the fact that Mueller found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and that Mueller could not conclude that Trump had obstructed justice.