Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday made public remarks that numerous Democratic members of Congress interpreted as a clear "impeachment referral," but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sparked anger from progressives by responding with a statement that did not even hint at impeachment.
"Nancy Pelosi and House leadership are out of touch with their own party."
—Zach Carter, HuffPost
"The special counsel's report revealed that the president's campaign welcomed Russian interference in the election, and laid out eleven instances of the president's obstruction of the investigation," Pelosi said. "The Congress will continue to investigate and legislate to protect our elections and secure our democracy."
Critics were quick to slam Pelosi's statement as "tone deaf" and "embarrassingly weak" compared to the responses of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Pelosi leadership team member Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), and other Democrats who demanded impeachment hearings against the president as soon as possible.
"Nancy Pelosi and House leadership are out of touch with their own party," tweeted HuffPost reporter Zach Carter.
This criticism of Pelosi was expressed across social media following Mueller's statement on his two-year investigation into President Donald Trump:
This is weak. We needed a stronger, shorter statement. Even if it wasn’t, “We need to impeach now,” this is tone deaf to how people are and will be thinking.
“Will continue to investigate and legislate.”
Doesn’t cut it. https://t.co/aEJdEEUF3Q
— Michelangelo Signorile (@MSignorile) May 29, 2019
This is just embarrassingly weak. https://t.co/uoOOCRcct4
— Ezra Levin (@ezralevin) May 29, 2019
As Common Dreams reported last week, Pelosi has been facing pressure from members of the House Judiciary Committee and her leadership team to sign off on impeachment hearings.
But Pelosi has thus far resisted the growing internal revolt, even while agreeing that Trump's lawlessness and corrupt behavior has sparked a "constitutional crisis."
Richard Hasen, professor of law and political science at the University of California–Irvine School of Law, wrote in a column for Slate Wednesday that Mueller's statement—which explicitly did not exonerate the president of criminal behavior—"clearly appeared aimed at one person: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi."
"Mueller's simple message to Pelosi is that it is the constitutional duty of Congress—and her sworn duty as speaker of the House—to begin an investigation of the president and seriously consider impeaching him," Hasen wrote. "Sure that's a political risk for Democrats, but so is doing nothing. More importantly, it's the right thing to do as a matter of constitutional responsibility."
Pelosi either didn't get the special counsel's message or is refusing to act on it. In an appearance at the Commonwealth Club of California hours after Mueller's statement, Pelosi continued to indicate that she is not willing to back impeachment proceedings:
Nancy Pelosi is still trying to slow-walk impeachment hearings pic.twitter.com/JHesQbR7Lm
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 29, 2019
"Mueller has done his job; now, it's up to Congress to take his findings and use them to hold the president and those around him accountable," Hess said. "The ball is in Speaker Pelosi's court now, and continuing to delay and make excuses isn't an option."
Indivisible echoed this call in an email to supporters on Wednesday.
"Democrats in Congress may talk a big game about cover-ups and obstruction, but none of that makes any difference if they don’t take action," said Indivisible. "There is no excuse for any member of Congress to stay silent any longer."