House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) suggested Friday that criticism of freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) over her “impeach the motherfucker” remark is driven by sexism and, while she does not condone the Michigan Democrat’s language, she is “not in the censorship business.”
USA Today Washington Bureau chief Susan Page was on hand at the town hall-style meeting, slated to air on MSNBC this evening, tweeting live updates of Pelosi’s discussion with host Joy Reid. Asked whether Tlaib’s’s call for President Donald Trump to be impeached hurts the Democrats’ “hurts the case,” Pelosi replied: “The enthusiasm that our members have helps the case, any case….We try to build our consensus on how we go forward. It doesn’t hurt the cause when people speak the truth.”
Touching on impeachment moments earlier, Pelosi stated that while “The outrage that people feel about impeachment is legitimate,” it would be premature to move forward with the measure.
Moments later, Pelosi addressed Tlaib’s impeachment remark in which she appeared to excuse the expletive-laden attack on the president, referring to the Palestinian-American lawmaker’s pledge as “generational.”
“I don’t like the language,” the speaker told Reid, later adding, “I’m not in the censorship business.”
In an apparent attempt to blame sexism for the blowback the Tlaib received, Pelosi wondered aloud what the response would have been if a man made the same comment. “What she said is less offensive than what President Trump said about John McCain,” claimed Pelosi.
The California Democrat then went on to say that Tlaib’s remark is “not the position of the Democratic caucus” regarding impeachment. “I think it probably consolidates his [President Trump’s] base, but I don’t think it needs much consolidation,” she added.
Speaking before a Thursday evening reception held by progressive advocacy group MoveOn.org, Tlaib vowed before a raucous crowd that she is going to impeach President Trump. “People love you and you win. And when your son looks at you and says, ‘Momma, look, you won. Bullies don’t win.’ And I said, ‘Baby, they don’t. Because we’re going to go in there and we’re going to impeach the motherfucker,” Tlaib, who was sworn in earlier as congresswoman for Michigan’s 13th Congressional district, said to loud cheers.
Congresswoman @RashidaTlaib tells cheering crowd that Trump impeachment coming
“We’re going to go in and impeach the motherfucker” pic.twitter.com/oQJYqR78IA
— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) January 4, 2019
In an opinion-editorial co-written with John Bonifaz, the co-founder and president of the advocacy group Free Speech For People, Tlaib laid out what they claim is the constitutional case for impeachment.
“Whether the president was directly involved in a conspiracy with the Russian government to interfere with the 2016 election remains the subject of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. But we do not need to wait on the outcome of that criminal investigation before moving forward now with an inquiry in the U.S. House of Representatives on whether the president has committed impeachable “high crimes and misdemeanors” against the state: abuse of power and abuse of the public trust. Each passing day brings new damage to the countless people hurt by this lawless president’s actions,” the pair wrote in the Detroit Free Press. “We cannot undo the trauma that he is causing to our people, and this nation. Those most vulnerable to his administration’s cruelty are counting on us to act—act to remove the president and put this country on a path to true justice.”
Tlaib and Bonifaz pushed back against calls from moderate Democrats that pursuing impeachment would be “politically unwise,” writing “Members of Congress have a sworn duty to preserve our Constitution. Leaving a lawless president in office for political points would be abandoning that duty.”
“Each passing day brings more pain for the people most directly hurt by this president, and these are days we simply cannot get back. The time for impeachment proceedings is now,” the op-ed concluded.
Tlaib stood behind her remark Friday, writing on Twitter that she will “always speak truth to power.”
I will always speak truth to power. #unapologeticallyMe
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) January 4, 2019
Later, the congresswoman issued a statement in which she refused to retract the remark and reiterated that President Trump must “absolutely” be impeached.
Rep Tlaib doubles down pic.twitter.com/ZKaYVNdvq7
— Josh Lederman (@JoshNBCNews) January 4, 2019