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Pelosi says no impeachment for now, Trump furious

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Democratic congressional leader Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that US President Donald Trump would welcome impeachment proceedings against him - but that her party is not ready to take the "very divisive" step.

[WASHINGTON] Democratic congressional leader Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that US President Donald Trump would welcome impeachment proceedings against him - but that her party is not ready to take the "very divisive" step.

Her comments came on day two of a very public war of words between the speaker of the House of Representatives and Mr Trump, who have sparred before - but not at this level.

According to Ms Pelosi, Mr Trump's strategy is to get his opponents to commit themselves to impeachment  a process that would almost certainly pass in the House, and then fail in the Republican-controlled Senate.

"The White House is just crying out for impeachment," she told journalists.

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According to Ms Pelosi, Mr Trump is "disappointed" that the Democrats are holding off for now, even as they intensify their investigations into the president's links to Russia and his alleged obstruction of justice.

"We can get the facts to the American people through our investigation," she told reporters, referring to ongoing congressional probes that Mr Trump is attempting to block.

"It may take us to a place that is unavoidable in terms of impeachment or not, but we're not at that place," she said.

Ms Pelosi goaded Mr Trump, declaring that she was "praying" for the president and that she wished "his family or his staff or his administration would have an intervention for the good of the country."

ANGRY BUT NOT 'RAGING' 

The drama pitting Mr Trump against the opposition Democrats hit fever pitch on Wednesday when the president abruptly canceled White House talks with Ms Pelosi and Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer.

Ms Pelosi said Mr Trump had a "temper tantrum" at what was meant to have been a bipartisan session on national infrastructure needs.

On Thursday, Mr Trump insisted that the incident was not his fault, and he disputed accounts that he'd been in a "rage."

His version of events followed 24 hours of angry complaints via Twitter and a Rose Garden press event about the Democrats.

"I was extremely calm yesterday with my meeting with Pelosi and Schumer, knowing that they would say I was raging, which they always do, along with their partner, the Fake News Media," Mr Trump said in a tweet.

"Well, so many stories about the meeting use the Rage narrative anyway - Fake & Corrupt Press!"

Mr Trump said he pulled the plug on the meeting because Ms Pelosi had earlier accused him of attempting to cover up alleged crimes related to special counsel Robert Mueller's recently finished probe into his campaign's Russia links.

Mr Trump says he cannot deal with Democrats as long as the "phony investigations" continue, even after the conclusion of Mr Mueller's work.

Top advisor Kellyanne Conway went on Trump-friendly television network Fox News to defend her boss Thursday, saying that "he never actually raised his voice."

The Democrats "ruined it about an hour before," Ms Conway told Fox, "saying he's engaged in a cover-up and then coming over here and pretending everything's great and we're going to discuss infrastructure."

IMPEACHMENT INDECISION 

Several Democratic lawmakers and 2020 presidential contenders are eager to move forward with impeachment proceedings, citing what they say is Mr Trump's obstruction of justice and refusal to respect congressional oversight powers.

But there are concerns among senior Democrats that the impeachment tactic could backfire, energising Mr Trump's base ahead of the 2020 election.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is especially close to Trump, said Wednesday on Fox News that Democrats hoped the Mueller report would sink the president and that they still haven't given up.

"After two years of a political rectal exam, nobody's been looked at more than Trump. They found nothing, but the answer for the Democrats is, 'Trump's got to go.' They will not beat him at the ballot box," Mr Graham said.

However, Ms Pelosi knows that a failed impeachment is "going to ensure his re-election," he said.

"This is just political revenge, (and) it's going to blow up in their face."

AFP