By Charles Babington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 12, 2006
Seeking to choke off a Republican rallying cry, the House's top Democrat has told colleagues that the party will not seek to impeach President Bush even if it gains control of the House in November's elections, her office said last night.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) told her caucus members during their weekly closed meeting Wednesday "that impeachment is off the table; she is not interested in pursuing it," spokesman Brendan Daly said.
Some House Democrats, including ranking Judiciary Committee member John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, have called for impeachment hearings into allegations that Bush misled the nation about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and that he violated federal law by approving warrantless wiretaps on Americans. In an interview with The Washington Post last week, Pelosi said a Democratic-controlled House would launch investigations of the administration on energy policy and other matters. She said impeachment would not be a goal of the investigations, but she added: "You never know where it leads to."
GOP activists seized on the remarks to warn potential donors of Bush's possible peril if Democrats pick up the 15 net House seats they need to become the majority. The National Republican Congressional Committee republished The Post's Sunday article in a letter to supporters and donors that stated: "The threat of the Democrats taking the majority in the House this November is very real."
Some Democratic activists criticized Pelosi, saying she made the party appear extreme while drawing attention away from more useful issues such as gasoline prices and Republican lobbying scandals.
Daly said Pelosi never considered impeachment a priority. Republicans "are in such desperate shape," he said, "we don't want to give them anything to grab on to." He said Conyers agrees with Pelosi's thinking.