House Democrats facing an election in nine months are grappling with whether to pursue further investigations of President Trump following his acquittal in the Senate and fresh White House actions that they say demand scrutiny.
Democrats want to look into whether the president improperly influenced the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendation for a Trump confidant, casting Trump as emboldened by the end of the impeachment process. At the same time, party leaders are eager to focus on pocketbook issues for voters, such as health care, and Democrats are wary of launching another drawn-out fight with the White House that could backfire in November.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., staked out a middle ground Thursday. She said the House should investigate any role Trump played in federal prosecutors’ decision to reduce the initial sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering. Pelosi called such alleged meddling an “abuse of power,” echoing the charge in the first of the two impeachment articles.
But Pelosi also said House Democrats aren’t going to “spend all of our time going after every lie that the administration henchmen make,” and emphasized that one priority is working with the administration on lowering prescription-drug costs. She signaled no new probes, instead pointing to testimony by Attorney General William Barr scheduled for March and a request made by Senate Democrats for an investigation by the Justice Department inspector general.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Democrats were trying to “manufacture more ‘investigations.’” She said: “At some point, you’d think they would take a page out of the president’s book and devote themselves to working for the country, but I guess not.”
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