House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday on CNBC that he takes Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comments about not looking to impeach President Donald Trump as a sign that Democrats realize there's no case for it.
"I think what Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Pelosi was trying to do, is tell her conference this is the wrong path to take — I believe it's wrong to do — and to try to slow the train down because they have no basis for impeachment," the California Republican told "Squawk Box."
McCarthy was reacting to remarks Pelosi made in a Washington Post interview published Monday. She said Trump is "ethically" and "intellectually unfit" to be president. But she added she's "not for impeachment" because Trump is "just not worth" the divisiveness that the country would suffer.
If history is any indication, that divisiveness could work against the party that seeks impeachment as Republicans learned two decades ago in Bill Clinton's second term.
While holding on to their House and Senate majorities in the 1998 midterm election, Republicans had a poor showing at the polls as Democratic voters were invigorated by the GOP-led House campaign to impeach then-President Clinton. A month after the midterms, the House voted to impeach. But in early 1999, the Senate voted not to remove Clinton from office.
Asked Tuesday whether he thought Pelosi was being disingenuous or setting up a strategy to later support a Trump impeachment, McCarthy said he does not think so. He contended that key Democrats who have wanted to impeach Trump are downplaying what they think the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian 2016 election influence and possible Trump campaign ties to Moscow might reveal.
Pelosi told the Post that her goals for 2020 are to keep the House, and flip the Senate and the White House. She did say in the interview that her position not to seek impeachment won't change "unless there's something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan."
"Of course Nancy is going to say that, said McCarthy. Many Democrats "wanted to impeach this president the day he won the election," he said, also pointing to the campaign by Democratic billionaire Tom Steyer to push lawmakers to impeach Trump.