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Nancy Pelosi’s ‘cover-up’ accusation upsets delicate balance with White House

May 22, 2019

Wednesday’s blow-up between President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was dramatic on its own, but it was all the more strange because the two sides had just taken a significant step toward cooperation hours before they opened fire on each other.

Just minutes before Mrs. Pelosi accused Mr. Trump of a “cover-up,” his Justice Department and her intelligence committee chairman reached a deal to share more of special counsel Robert Mueller’s work with lawmakers.

Chairman Adam Schiff said Attorney General William P. Barr has agreed to provide material from a dozen different aspects of Mr. Mueller’s investigation. In exchange, Mr. Schiff said he would not pursue contempt or some other punishment right now.

When Mr. Schiff announced the deal in a closed-door meeting of House Democrats, applause broke out, said Rep. Gerald Connolly, Virginia Democrat.

“Schiff talked about that in the context of, ’See, we are making progress,” Mr. Connolly told reporters. “Our intrepid posture is paying off subtext: ‘You don’t have to go to that other thing.’”

That other thing is impeachment, which a growing number of Democrats are agitating for.

Mrs. Pelosi argues that going down that path would ruin chances for Democrats to work on the rest of their agenda.

She’s trying to balance the increasingly vocal pro-impeachment side of her caucus with the need to govern and cooperate with a GOP-led Senate and a Republican in the White House.

She has said committees can pursue their investigations, but she warned not to go too far toward impeachment.

Yet minutes after Mr. Schiff announced his breakthrough, Mrs. Pelosi appeared to upset that balance by accusing the president of a cover-up.

“We believe that no one is above the law, including the president of the United States,” she told reporters. “We believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up.”

Mrs. Pelosi’s calls for patience on impeachment have deeply divided her party.

Texas Democrat Rep. Al Green said it makes no sense for Democrats to wait for more investigations because they already have the Mueller report.

“Do we need another investigation? We were told to wait for this. We waited. We’re now going to start another investigation that in my opinion will diminish the political prowess of the political power of the Judiciary committee,” he said.

Rep. David Cicilline, who first called for an impeachment inquiry Monday evening, said Mr. Schiff’s deal with the Justice Department was a step in the right direction but still plans to push to begin the impeachment process.

“It sounds like the Department of Justice is beginning to comply, at least in part, with subpoenas. That’s a good sign. One has to assume that’s at least in part because of the court decision,” he told reporters.

While members on all sides of the debate stuck to their camps after the meeting, despite the argument from leadership, for now Mrs. Pelosi has kept the troops in line.

“I would not say anything decisive has occurred, so I think Nancy still prevails in persuading her caucus to keep [their] powder dry on that one and let’s allow these investigations continue. They are producing results,” Mr. Connolly said.

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