WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was not having it from reporters who tried to pin her down Thursday on the exact nature of the House's impeachment investigation and her refusal to call it an "inquiry."
Speaking soon after the Judiciary Committee voted for new procedures in what it calls an "impeachment investigation," she was asked if she would "concede" that it is in fact an inquiry.
"Do I concede now? Have you not paid attention to what we've been talking about?" Pelosi snapped. "For months we've been saying we're doing three things," she said, repeating her mantra that they are "legislating, investigating and litigating."
"Six committees have been working for months," Pelosi said.
Pressed on whether the specific language was important, the speaker appeared annoyed.
"You're the only ones who are sewing this," Pelosi told reporters, one of whom interrupted to say that was not true.
"It is true," Pelosi insisted, adding that she travels the country and hears what people say. "They understand that impeachment is a very divisive measure, but if we have to go there, we'll have to go there."
Reminded that House Democrats have been saying contradictory things about where they are at with impeachment, Pelosi insisted she did not have to set any records straight.
“I have said what I’m going to say on the subject. That’s it,” Pelosi snapped, although she went on to argue that the House committees were conducting a thorough, fair and methodical investigation.
She then called for questions on other topics, but cut the reporter off to say more about impeachment including that "from a timing standpoint, where we need to be."
Asked to elaborate, Pelosi appeared angry, saying again she wouldn't answer more on impeachment.
Still, near the end of her weekly event, one still-puzzled reporter tried to get the speaker to say the the problem was with using the the word "inquiry."
Pelosi spluttered for a moment before suggesting that reporters instead should be asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell about voting on gun bills he is blocking.
"Why is it that you're hung up on a word over here when lives are at stake over there?" Pelosi asked before thanking the press and then leaving.
She never explained the problem with the word "inquiry," but both progressives who want a more aggressive approach and Republicans have argued the problem is that Democratic leaders want to look like they're are getting tough on Trump without actually risking a floor vote.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler has also dodged the word "inquiry" but says he's essentially conducting one, and doesn't need any new authority from holding vote in the full House.
While Democrats’ reluctance to use or explain anything about the word “inquiry” is puzzling, their actual process no longer appears to be. Nadler told the News Wednesday that he is investigating in hopes of getting the evidence that would allow a floor vote to succeed. In the meantime, moderate Democrats from swing districts have preferred to focus on other issues.