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Why Pelosi is trying to slow Democrats’ impeachment momentum

Although Congress is currently on spring break, there continues to be plenty of political activity in the wake of the release of a redacted version of the Mueller report. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi circled Democrats in a conference call Monday, to survey their opinions about how to react and potentially head off momentum around impeachment. Judy Woodruff talks to Lisa Desjardins.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Democrats are wrestling with how to respond to the Mueller report. While many say they want to investigate the report's findings, some are pushing farther for impeachment.

    To help us understand what's going on, I'm joined by our own Lisa Desjardins.

    So, Lisa, a lot is going on.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The leadership of the Democrats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, called for a conference call today. She said all the Democratic members — or most of them — on the call with her. This just started a short time ago. Why is she doing this?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Right. That's right.

    All of Congress is on its spring break right now. They're not in Washington. So Nancy Pelosi is trying to circle here on this conference call. And I'm literally going to get text messages while we're talking.

    This call began over an hour ago. It's gone much longer than expected. She did this call to give an update to her members about how Democrats are proceeding now that the Mueller investigation report, in its redacted form, has been released.

    She's telling Democrats, yes, some of you, a few of you would like to move to impeachment proceedings. All of you want further investigation. Here is what we are doing as Democrats going forward.

    She also took questions, which is one reason and I think this call is going long.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You were telling me earlier that, after talking to a number of sources, the sense is, she's doing this in order to head off some of this momentum and maybe growing momentum to do something stronger.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's right.

    I think that Democratic leadership right now remains resistant to the idea of beginning impeachment proceedings. However, a handful of their members would like to move to impeachment proceedings. Some of them called for impeachment proceedings before the Mueller report even came out.

    I think this is some preemptive action by Speaker Pelosi to try and gather everyone and move away from that kind of impeachment plan too soon. They believe that could be politically dangerous for Democrats, that it could backfire.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, in the meantime, what they're doing is, we know they have already called for the special counsel, Robert Mueller, himself to come and testify. We're waiting to see if he actually does that. The expectation is that he will, but we don't know yet.

    And then today there was news they are subpoenaing someone who was on the White House staff.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    This was the news at the beginning of the call. Speaker Pelosi and others announced that they are just about — the House Judiciary Committee is subpoenaing Don McGahn.

    He is the man who was the White House counsel, appears a lot in the Mueller report, because he said to the special counsel that the president asked him to fire the special counsel. As we talked about last week, that is one of the most egregious sort of almost violations that Mueller found in the report.

    Now House Democrats are subpoenaing Don McGahn to testify in about a month. Before that, Judy, they want 36 different categories of documents from Mr. McGahn, who we know kept notes, and we know the president has a problem with the fact that he kept notes.

    As for the president, all day today, he's been saying this remains harassment. And Republicans are pushing back at this subpoena. They say that this is just Democratic overreach and that many of these documents will be privileged and will not be able to go to Congress.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So we wait to see. They will continue to work on these investigations.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But at this point holding off the idea of moving ahead in any way with impeachment.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's right.

    But May is now going to be an extra set of innings in this investigation, and it's going to be very important.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Lisa Desjardins, covering the Capitol for us, thank you.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You're welcome.

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