Ocasio-Cortez: Progressive Frustration That Speaker Pelosi Won't Start Impeachment Is "Quite Real"


Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that pressure to impeach President Trump is growing every day and progressive frustration with Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not moving forward on it is "quite real."

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York is here for her first Sunday show interview since taking office. Congresswoman, welcome to THIS WEEK. Thank you for joining us.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Of course. Thank you for having me.

KARL: So what's your sense? You watched that whole interview play out? Does this change the calculus on impeachment?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I think every day that passes the pressure to impeach grows and I think that it’s justifiable, I think the evidence continues to come in and I believe that with the president now saying that he is willing to break the law to win re-election, that -- that goes -- that transcends partisanship, it transcends party lines and this is now about the rule of law in the United States of America.

KARL: There’s a new poll out this morning, NBC News that shows significant growth in Democratic support for impeachment. And the -- the survey was done before George's interview. Pelosi, though -- Speaker Pelosi has really held her line on this. How is that flying with progressives?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, you know, I think for me this question has -- should not be about polls, it should not be about elections. I think that -- that impeachment is incredibly serious and this is about the presence and evidence that the president may have committed a crime, in this case more than one. And so I believe that -- that our decision on impeachment should be based in our constitutional responsibilities and duties and not in elections or polling.

That being said, with the increase in polls I think the American people are now recognizing, in -- in a much broader scale, the depth and the severity of the misconduct coming out of the White House and a demand to protect our institutions and protect the rule of law in the United States and -- and at least opening an inquiry into -- into possible misconduct.

KARL: So how is that real progressive frustration that Speaker Pelosi has said at least so far -- and she seems to be really holding the line that she's not ready to do that?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think it's quite real. I believe that there is a very real animus and desire to make sure that we are -- that -- that we are holding this president to account.

KARL: What have you told her about this?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well you know, I think we come together as a caucus and we have these conversations and those -- as -- as the Speaker likes to say, they are family conversations, they are ones that are held in confidence, but I do believe that -- that this is truly, again -- and I’ve said this publicly, I’ve said it privately, I’ve said it when we subpoenaed the attorney general and Secretary Ross today on the census -- I mean this week on the census that this is about the rule of law and we have to make sure that we -- that we are -- holding this president account is holding all of government to account.

KARL: Essentially (ph) you have 41 freshman Democrats that are in seats that were held by Republicans. And from everything I’ve seen, virtually all of them -- these are your majoritymakers, all of them oppose moving forward with impeachment.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I -- I would disagree with that assessment. I think that some of these dynamics are changing. I would -- I would very much not say all of them are opposed to impeachment. I think many of them are extraordinarily concerned about the misconduct coming out. I -- I -- it really -- you have to look at the process. There is opening an impeachment inquiry and then there’s the impeachment vote itself. There may be some that are out on the impeachment vote itself, but I think that there is a growing sentiment even among many of these frontliners, as we call them, swing district Democrats that think we should at least open an inquiry and look into the abundance of evidence, 10 counts of obstruction of justice, four with rock-solid evidence, we have violations of the emoluments clause.

We need to at least open an inquiry so that we can look at what is going on. And that is what opening an -- an impeachment inquiry means.

KARL: Isn’t there a risk -- and I take your point about not wanting to do this for politics, but politics are very real here. Even if you open the inquiry, there's a vote, the president is impeached, obviously he would still for politics, but politics are very real here. Even if you open the inquiry, there's a vote, the president is impeached, obviously he would still have to be convicted in the Senate with a super-majority. That's not going to happen. So, don't you risk handing him a political victory here?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: So I think there are a couple of scenarios here. One, there's always the possibility that you open an impeachment inquiry and it does not result in a referral. That we open the inquiry...

KARL: Wouldn't that be a victory for...

OCASIO-CORTEZ: … look at everything.

KARL: ... Trump, too, though?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think that this is about us doing our jobs. And if we're talking about what's going to be a victory for Trump and what's not going to be a victory for Trump then we are politicizing and we are tainting this process, which, again, should be removed from politics.

That being said, Lindsey Graham himself set a very low bar for impeachment in 1998, in the late '90s, with the impeachment of Bill Clinton. That impeachment did not result in a vote by the Senate. But I think for us, what we need to really realize is, are we doing our job as a member of the House?

And the Senate has their entire responsibility. Mitch McConnell has over a hundred bills. He hasn't brought election security to his feet. And let's not forget that he's involved in this mess, too. His wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, just was revealed by The New York Times for having a whole web of potential conflicts of interest and as it relates to bringing projects to Kentucky as well.

I mean, there's a whole other separate set of issues in the Senate. But I think we need to be concerned with our job in the House.

KARL: And what about this question of prosecuting Donald Trump after he leaves office, which we're now hearing from more Democrats, including Kamala Harris?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, again, this is -- that's out of our -- that's completely out of our scope of responsibilities. I, nor any other elected official has control over potential prosecution after the president leaves office.

KARL: Was it inappropriate to be calling for it? It's like a Democratic variation of "lock her up," you know...

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Right. Well, I wouldn't equate it to that extent, but I don't think that that is -- I just don't see the relevancy in calling for prosecution after he leaves office. We have the ability to actually -- to actually kind of play out our responsibilities now. We have power now. And to bump it to when we don't have power I don't think makes a whole lot of sense in terms of speaking about it.

Watch the full interview:

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