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Push to impeach Trump stalls amid Democrats’ deference to — and fear of — Pelosi

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“Republicans are stewing in their own juices,” Pelosi told Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), arguing that the majority of the Democratic caucus didn’t support impeachment and that the party should devote its time to calling out Republicans for siding with a president trampling the Constitution, according to Democrats and other senior officials who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely describe what transpired.

Nadler left the room that night and has not publicly endorsed impeachment. “Impeachment is a political act, and you cannot impeach a president if the American people will not support it,” he has said.

As pressure has mounted in recent weeks on House Democrats to move more aggressively against Trump, Pelosi has demonstrated the firm grip she wields over her caucus — quashing, at least for now, the push for impeachment. It is a command that colleagues say is drawn from a deep well of respect for the political wisdom of the most powerful woman in American politics — and fear that challenging her comes with the risk of grave cost to one’s career.

In January, Pelosi blocked two ringleaders of the rebels who had tried to deny her the speakership from securing their preferred committee assignments — even though the peace pact she made to reclaim the gavel precluded retaliation. And veteran lawmakers keenly remember how she rebuffed former Democratic lawmakers Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and John Dingell (D-Mich.), two occasional thorns in her side, in their quest for chairmanships, moves many viewed as revenge for challenging her vision or authority.

“It’s much better to be with her than against her,” said Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.), a Pelosi antagonist who eventually backed her for speaker. “She doesn’t make it easy, that’s for sure.”

“One, you want to be a team player and support the leader’s position, but secondly you’re worried about your own self and . . . what can happen if you don’t follow along,” said another Pelosi critic, Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), who summed up the concerns members face if they defy Pelosi.


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