House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday did not rule out the possibility of impeaching President Donald Trump if he tries to push through a Supreme Court nominee to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a lame-duck session.
The California Democrat said Ginsburg's death made it more critical than ever that Americans vote in the 2020 general election. ABC News "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos pointed out that even if Democratic nominee Joe Biden emerges victorious and the Democrats retake control of the Senate, Trump and Senate Republicans might still try to get a nominee confirmed.
Stephanopoulos said "some have mentioned the possibility" of moving to impeach Trump or Attorney General William Barr "as a way of stalling and preventing the Senate from acting on this nomination."
Ruth Bader Ginsburg's last wish: 'I will not be replaced until a new president is installed'
"Well, we have our options. We have arrows in our quiver that I’m not about to discuss right now," Pelosi said.
"Right now, our main goal – and I think Ruth Bader Ginsburg would want that to be – would be to protect the integrity of the election as we protect the American people from the coronavirus," Pelosi said.
Ginsburg's death less than two months before the election has fueled a fierce debate over the timing of her replacement. Democrats are demanding Republicans wait until at least the results of the Nov. 3 election. They say pushing through a nominee before then would be hypocritical after denying then-President Barack Obama's nominee Merrick Garland a vote in 2016, citing the proximity of the election, which was nearly eight months away.
Republicans argue this situation is different because the same party controls the White House and the Senate. They also say it would be unwise to level a vacant seat heading into a hotly contested election in which the Supreme Court could be asked to resolve legal disputes.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., called Pelosi's comment "scary."
"Pelosi is refusing to rule out impeaching @realDonaldTrump again solely to delay the Senate filling the Supreme Court vacancy. Impeachment was never about a 'crime' for Dems," Scalise tweeted, referring to Democrats' impeachment of Trump in December for allegedly abusing his power by using military aid to Ukraine as leverage for political gain.
"They only care about one thing: their own power – and they’ll stop at nothing to get it," Scalise said of Democrats.
🚨 Pelosi is refusing to rule out impeaching @realDonaldTrump again solely to delay the Senate filling the Supreme Court vacancy.— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) September 20, 2020
Impeachment was never about a “crime” for Dems.
They only care about one thing: their own power—and they’ll stop at nothing to get it. Scary. pic.twitter.com/5UEFmuzsUJ
While she didn't immediately spurn the idea of impeachment, Pelosi did shoot down the possibility of using federal funding as leverage to stall a nominee.
"None of us has any interest in shutting down government. That has such a harmful and painful impact on so many people in our country. So I would hope that we can just proceed with that," she said when asked about that possibility. "There is some enthusiasm among some exuberance on the left to say let's use that, but we're not going to be shutting down government."
Pelosi did not answer directly when asked if she would consider, as some liberals have suggested, of expanding the number of justices on the court – often referred to as court-packing – in retaliation if Trump successfully adds another conservative to the bench before leaving office.
"Well, let's just win the election. Let's hope that the president will see the light," she said.
Pelosi slammed Trump for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his effort to kill the Affordable Care Act during the crisis.
"This is about the people. It's about their health, their economic well-being, the health of our democracy. We have a great deal at stake here," she said. "I think we should be very calm. We should be inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsburg."
"She was brilliant, and she was strategic, and she was successful. And she did more for equality for women in our country than anyone that you can name," Pelosi added. "And I think that you will see women weighing in on all of these decisions, be the elections, confirmations, or the rest."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pelosi: Impeachment an 'option' in fight for Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat