Ocasio-Cortez: Dems 'sitting on our hands' on impeachment

Bloc of members want Dems to take tougher stance

By Kate Sullivan and Manu Raju, CNN
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

(CNN) - Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Tuesday it appears Democrats are "sitting on their hands" when it comes to impeachment, reflecting the unease from an outspoken bloc of members who want Democrats to take a tougher stance against the President.

When asked if she was satisfied with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's approach and opposition to beginning the impeachment process, Ocasio-Cortez told CNN, "Personally, I am not."

"I think that an impeachment inquiry is right on our doorstep," the New York Democrat said, adding she is "concerned" about where the line to begin proceedings has been drawn.

"If now isn't the time ... what is the bar, what is the line that we're waiting to be crossed for an impeachment inquiry, and so far it doesn't seem like there is one," Ocasio-Cortez said.

"And so without a clear boundary, it seems as though we're kind of sitting on our hands," she added. "So, if now isn't the time, then I think a lot of folks would like to know, when is the time?"

Earlier Tuesday, Pelosi told CNN opening an impeachment inquiry is "not off the table," as she explained her continued opposition to formally opening the process.

"I don't think you should impeach for political reasons, and I don't think you should not impeach for political reasons," Pelosi said at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation's Fiscal Summit.

About 60 House Democrats including Ocasio-Cortez have said they support starting an impeachment inquiry, roughly a quarter of the 235 Democrats in the chamber. For many of the rest of the caucus -- particularly those who flipped districts previously held by Republicans -- impeachment is not their top priority. CNN recently reached out to 41 freshmen Democrats who flipped GOP seats last year to ask if they currently support starting an impeachment inquiry. The results were telling -- nearly half (20) didn't respond. Of those who did, the vast majority were either a "no" or undecided.

The speaker has faced increasing pressure from members of the Democratic Party, both on the campaign trail and in her caucus, who have voiced support for opening an impeachment inquiry.

CNN previously reported House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, lobbied Pelosi to support an impeachment inquiry.

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last week reversed his position and now says the House should move on impeachment.

Ocasio-Cortez said in April she would support impeachment proceedings against Trump after reading special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

"Mueller's report is clear in pointing to Congress' responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the President. It is our job as outlined in Article 1, Sec 2, Clause 5 of the US Constitution," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, promising to sign on to an impeachment resolution led by fellow freshman Democrat Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

CNN's Clare Foran, Ashley Killough and Alex Rogers contributed to this report.

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