Pelosi says impeachment ‘doesn’t need too much inquiry’ at Venezuela event in Florida

About 300 miles south from where President Donald Trump was speaking with supporters in Central Florida, the Democratic leader who backed a process of impeachment in the House of Representatives last week said Thursday the congressional probe wouldn’t “need too much inquiry.”

“The president has confessed to his violation of his oath of office, and right there, there it is. So it doesn’t need too much inquiry,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a roundtable with local Venezuelan leaders in Weston.

“But that’s up to the committee,” she added.

Pelosi’s Weston visit came a day after she said at a press conference that House Democrats would issue a subpoena to the White House on Friday if it does not voluntarily turn over records from a July 25 phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president. Trump sent a string of angry tweets at Pelosi and House Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., in the past 24 hours.

“The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy on BULL----, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016,” Trump tweeted. While at The Villages Thursday, Trump unveiled an executive order on Medicare.

At the Weston meeting, Pelosi said she was saddened by the impeachment process and said she worried that the process would be “divisive for the country.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks flanked by Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Albio Sires, and Donna Shalala. She attended a meeting in Weston to discuss peacefully transitioning to democracy in Venezuela with Ambassador Carlos Vecchio and local Venezuelan community leaders, on Thursday, October 3, 2019. Pedro Portal pportal@miamiherald.com

“The path that we are going on now in terms of an inquiry of impeachment is sad. This is nothing that anybody takes any satisfaction in. It’s sad for our country that our president would put us through this situation,” she said.

“I’ve tried to avoid impeachment because it is divisive in the country. And I just thought, ‘Well, we’ll deal with the president in the election,’” she added. “But our Constitution is worth it. Our democracy is worth it and our republic ... is worth it.”

While Pelosi faced questions about impeachment, the purpose of her visit was to show support for the country’s largest Venezuelan community. She was joined by Venezuelan Ambassador Carlos Vecchio and South Florida Democratic Reps. Donna Shalala, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and New Jersey Rep. Albio Sires.

Pelosi met with activists in the Venezuelan community and reiterated her position that the U.S. must back a “legitimate Democratic process” to remove leader Nicolás Maduro from power.

The discussion about Venezuela’s future also included questions about whether the U.S. would consider granting Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, to Venezuelans who have fled the country.

Wasserman Schultz, asked about Republican Sen. Rick Scott’s recent effort to pass a TPS bill in the U.S. Senate with an amendment that overhauls the program to make it easier to end current designations, called Scott a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

“Rick Scott is full of bull. It is so disingenuous for him to suggest that he was for TPS for Venezuelans when what he was really doing was trying to pass an amendment that would completely upend Temporary Protected Status for every other group that already has it here,” she said. “And then when his amendment failed miserably in the Senate, he showed his true colors and opposed the underlying bill that would have granted TPS for Venezuelans.”

“Rick Scott is not for anyone but himself,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Chris Hartline, a spokesman for Scott, said Wasserman Schultz’s comments “were the same old partisan nonsense we’ve heard from her for years” and noted that New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez blocked Scott’s TPS proposal last week.

“The fact is, Senator Scott’s amendment, which would grant TPS to Venezuelans immediately, is the only measure that can pass the Senate and become law,” Hartline said in a statement to the Miami Herald.

A group of people protested outside of the Bonaventure Town Center Club in Weston as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Ambassador Carlos Vecchio and local Venezuelan community leaders on Thursday, October 3, 2019. Pedro Portal pportal@miamiherald.com

The back-and-forth was the latest in an ongoing effort by South Florida Democrats to position themselves as a voice for Venezuelans., while Republicans like Scott and Trump say they are in the best position to oust Maduro.

Republicans have used comments from some Democrats, who said the decision to recognize Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader is evidence of a U.S.-backed coup, to argue that Democrats don’t care about Venezuela. Shalala, Wasserman Schultz and Mucarsel-Powell have made pleas to their fellow Democrats to engage more on Venezuela, arguing that Trump’s decisions on Venezuela could hurt Florida Democrats at the polls in 2020.

In response, Democrats have highlighted the Trump administration’s decision not to grant TPS to Venezuelans in the United States, which would allow them to live and work without fear of deportation. House Democrats passed Venezuela TPS legislation in July, but the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate has not advanced the bill.

Pelosi’s presence at a pro-Guaidó Venezuela event in Weston, home to one of the country’s largest Venezuelan communities, is a significant show of support for the recognized government from the country’s highest-ranking Democratic lawmaker.

She has called Maduro a “thug” in past interviews and supported the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Guaidó. Other House Democrats, notably Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, have decried U.S. efforts to oppose Maduro as a “coup.”

The Democratic members of Congress also said TPS is an urgent issue for Venezuelans who have fled to the U.S. — overwhelmingly choosing South Florida as their top destination — to escape the humanitarian crises plaguing their country.

“The president of the United States could do this,” Pelosi told reporters.

The temporary protection does not create a path to U.S. citizenship.

“It’s there because it’s so needed for them to have the confidence, the certainty in what they’re doing in their lives and their families,” Pelosi said. “It’s not there to be a convenience for a politician to say, ‘I helped you just for the moment.’ Just for the moment is not enough.”