To Rep. Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.), the decision on whether to impeach President Donald Trump is a simple matter of patriotism vs. politics.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) doesn't see things that way, and on CNN Thursday Cohen said she "needs to do what is right." Pelosi said Thursday that Trump has engaged in a cover-up—which Trump said is a hoax—but the speaker is holding off on opening impeachment hearings for now.
"She says that she's doing this because of patriotism, not politics. It's hard to see that," Cohen said about Pelosi. "The fact is when you have a Constitution and you have a rule of law, and it's being destroyed in a reckless gangster manner, you need to act. I think the only reason not to act is because of politics. Patriotism says act."
"It sounds like you're saying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not being patriotic. Is that right?" CNN host Poppy Harlow asked.
"Not necessarily. I think you can be patriotic in different ways," Cohen replied. "But if you're going to say whether going for impeachment is patriotic or not going for impeachment is patriotic, I think going for impeachment is—when you see it laid out before you. And I see that."
Harlow again pressed him on what this means for his leader in the House.
"You're saying she's putting politics above patriotism in this instance?" Harlow asked.
"I hate to get into it with Nancy. Nancy and I have got a great relationship and I'm not going to spoil that," Cohen answered.
"I get that, but you also need to be straight, right?" Harlow asked.
"I'm straight with the American people. Donald Trump needs to be impeached," he replied. "I think it will be the best thing for the country and the best thing for Democrats both."
Despite all this, Cohen granted that a majority in the Democratic caucus do not want to impeach Trump. In his opinion, he and his fellow members of the House Judiciary Committee have greater insight into this matter and that’s why they favored impeachment, and Pelosi and the others will come around eventually.
"Nancy has a good perspective on our caucus and she's a good mother hen. I think she's wrong in her strategy," Cohen said.
Cohen alleged there are a litany of reasons Trump should be impeached, from violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution to obstructing justice. Impeachment hearings, Cohen said, would make people will see him in the same light as former President Richard Nixon.
"Having it in the form of an impeachment inquiry or an impeachment hearing, that the public will watch as they did during the Watergate Senate hearings…they will come around to see this man is not capable to be president," Cohen said.
While the Watergate comparison is popular among Trump's critics, many in the mainstream media have compared impeaching Trump to impeaching former President Bill Clinton. That campaign led to a midterm backlash against Republicans after they successfully impeached Clinton but failed to convict him in the Senate.