June 16, 2019

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was asked about the riff between House Democrats on whether the time is right to open an impeachment inquiry into this corrupt administration, and spoke with great clarity to ABC's Jonathan Karl about why that decision shouldn't be based on politics, but instead on the rule of law and our system of checks and balances.

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.

Cortez also laid into Senate Republicans for their blatant hypocrisy on the issue along with their corrupt leader, Mitch McConnell and his wife, Elaine Chao, and their conflict of interests:

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.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Absolutely.

KARL: 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.


KARL: 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.

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