Politics

Pelosi doesn't budge on impeachment after Trump's 'appalling' claim he'd take 2020 campaign dirt from foreign powers

Key Points
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., refuses to say at what point she would support impeaching President Donald Trump.
  • "Everybody in the country should be totally appalled by what the president said," Pelosi says. "But he has a habit of making appalling statements," she adds.
  • Even if Trump was found to have accepted a foreign government's help in the election, Pelosi avoids making any commitment to launching impeachment proceedings.
  • Pelosi says that Democrats will be introducing a package of legislation "mandating that campaigns report foreign offers of assistance."
Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi speaks to the press on June 13, 2019, during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday repeatedly refused to say at what point she would support impeaching President Donald Trump, whose claim that he would possibly take foreign operatives' dirt on a 2020 opponent was loudly condemned by her party a day earlier.

"Not any one issue is going to trigger, 'Oh, now we'll go do this,'" Pelosi told reporters when asked whether Trump's remarks were enough to push the top House Democrat — who has strongly resisted an impeachment fight — over the edge.

In an interview that aired in part Wednesday, Trump told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that he would accept information on his 2020 opponent if it was offered by foreign operatives and would not alert the FBI.

"It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it," Trump said.

The comments from a sitting president were immediately met with an outcry from Democrats and political organizations, as well as some Republicans.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a major supporter of Trump's, said his response to the question was "not the right answer ... the right answer is 'no.'"

"Everybody in the country should be totally appalled by what the president said," Pelosi said when asked if Trump inviting foreign help in an election was grounds for impeachment. "But he has a habit of making appalling statements," she added.

Even if Trump was found to have accepted a foreign government's help in the election, Pelosi avoided making any commitment to launching impeachment proceedings.

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"As we go down this path to seek the truth for the American people and hold the president accountable, it has nothing to do with politics or any campaigns," she said. "It has everything to do with patriotism, not partisanship."

Pelosi has consistently pushed back against a growing pro-impeachment chorus within her party, which now includes dozens of lawmakers and numerous Democratic presidential candidates. She said last month that Trump is "goading" Democrats to try to impeach him because he believes it would help "solidify his base" of supporters.

In response to Trump's willingness to take opposition research from foreign sources, Pelosi said that Democrats would be introducing a package of legislation "mandating that campaigns report foreign offers of assistance."

It's "self-evident as a matter of ethics," she said, "but we'll have to codify it."

A spokeswoman for Pelosi said that package was in the works, but will likely include bills that cover election security, prevent foreign interference and close foreign money loopholes.

Trump defended his remarks in a two-part tweet Thursday morning. "I meet and talk to 'foreign governments' every day," Trump said, referencing world leaders he met during a recent trip to Europe. "We talked about 'Everything!'" he said. "Should I immediately call the FBI about these calls and meetings? How ridiculous!"

Accepting foreign campaign contributions is illegal, while diplomacy between world leaders is not.

The president also claimed that the clip from ABC's interview did not include his "full answer" and left out "the part that matters." It was unclear what context the president believes was excised from the clips presented by ABC.