Nancy Pelosi walks back rhetoric on Trump’s ouster: ‘This is an inquiry and not an outright impeachment’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was once resistant to join the far-left of her caucus in calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. But after news broke that a so-called “whistleblower” had insider knowledge about alleged wrongdoing by Trump, Pelosi jumped in with both feet — perhaps a little too soon.

In what can be seen as a small victory for the president, Pelosi seems to be dialing down her rhetoric on impeachment. The House speaker went out of her way at a press conference Wednesday to draw a distinction between an “impeachment inquiry” and an “outright impeachment,” Breitbart reports — and she even signaled that Trump should get the chance to defend himself.

Dancing around the “I” word

Pelosi was joined Wednesday by Trump-hating, impeachment-obsessed House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. But alongside her fellow California congressman, Pelosi seemed to scale back on what once seemed to be full-scale efforts to oust Trump from office.

“This is an inquiry and not an outright impeachment,” Pelosi said at one point during her weekly presser. “And we have to give the president his chance to exonerate himself.”

Earlier in her talk, Pelosi suggested that House Democrats are ready and willing to work with the Trump White House to pass legislation that would lower prescription drug costs, fund infrastructure projects, and ratify the U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), a trade deal that would replace NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement).

The House speaker also seemed to sidestep the impeachment issue on numerous occasions, even going so far as to invoke prayer and spirituality, the Constitution, and the revolutionary spirit of the nation’s founders.

“We have to be prayerful,” Pelosi said. “We have to be worthy of the Constitution as we go forward. We have to be fair to the president and that’s why this is an investigation: an inquiry, and not an outright impeachment, and we have to give the president his chance to exonerate himself.”

But try as she might to shift attention away from impeachment and toward legislation, the media would have none of it. Reporters repeatedly attempted to ask about the impeachment process — something Schiff, for his part, was more than happy to oblige when given the chance.

Pelosi’s not ready to push Trump out

Pelosi, on the other hand, was in defensive mode.

“First of all, there’s no requirement that there be a Floor vote,” the speaker said in response to a question about her choice to unilaterally declare an impeachment inquiry without the support of the rest of the House. “That’s not anything that is excluded and, by the way, there’s some Republicans that are very nervous about our bringing that vote to the Floor.”

Still, Pelosi’s attempt to contrast an “inquiry” and “outright impeachment” was, for all intents and purposes, a failure. Try as she might to walk back her sudden, unrelenting push for Trump’s ouster, Pelosi’s renewed hesitation is merely undermining her party’s ultimate goal of taking the president down.

For now, we’ll call that a win for President Trump.

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