Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told senior Democrats she wants to see President Donald Trump "in prison" as she engaged in a dispute with House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler in a meeting about whether to start impeachment proceedings.
Pelosi has had to manage Democratic committee leaders "embroiled in a behind-the-scenes turf battle" over "ownership of the Democrats' sprawling investigation into Trump," Politico reports.
"I don’t want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison," Pelosi reportedly said, even as she rejected Nadler's request to let his committee launch an impeachment inquiry.
A spokeswoman for Pelosi said she and Nadler "had a productive meeting about the state of play with the Mueller report. They agreed to keep all options on the table and continue to move forward with an aggressive hearing and legislative strategy, as early as next week, to address the president’s corruption and abuses of power uncovered in the report."
Other attendees at the meeting included House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D., Md.), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D., Mass.), and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.).
Schiff, Neal, and Cummings reportedly agreed with Pelosi that now is not the right time to start impeachment proceedings.
Nadler refused to say whether he and Pelosi agreed on impeachment during an appearance on CNN on Wednesday.
"When that decision has to be made, it will be made not by any one individual, it will be made probably by the caucus as a whole," Nadler said. "Certainly Nancy will have the largest single voice in it."
Politico further summarized the internal strife in the Democratic Party:
Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), all members of Democratic leadership and the Judiciary panel, first raised the idea of launching an impeachment inquiry during a private leadership meeting late last month only to be shot down by Pelosi.
Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and other top Democrats met with Nadler separately that night as he again unsuccessfully argued for opening an impeachment inquiry.
Nadler, Raskin and other lawmakers say opening an inquiry doesn’t necessarily result in impeachment and would strengthen their legal case as Democrats pursue Trump in court in an effort to force him to comply with their investigations. But other Democrats argue that the public wouldn't understand the difference between an inquiry and actual impeachment, which would only further muddle the party's message in the run up to the election.
Pelosi has repeatedly said she doesn’t think trying to impeach Trump is "worth it," arguing that without the public on their side, the best way to beat the president is to convince voters to kick him out of office in 2020. She and some other top Democrats worry that pursuing impeachment would swamp their legislative agenda and embolden the Republican base, possibly costing them the House next year and ensuring Trump’s reelection.
Pelosi told reporters on Wednesday that she is "not feeling any pressure."