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A Top House Democrat Said The House Isn’t In An Impeachment Investigation, Even As The Investigation’s Head Says It Is

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer later cleared up his remarks, but the confusion highlights Democrats’ mixed messaging on impeachment.

Last updated on September 11, 2019, at 1:27 p.m. ET

Posted on September 11, 2019, at 1:15 p.m. ET

Alex Edelman / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Wednesday that the House is not in the middle of an impeachment investigation. And then he kind of walked it back.

Hoyer’s statement during his weekly press conference reflects the mixed messaging among Democratic members, more than half of whom have called for impeaching President Donald Trump, and their leadership who have been hesitant to go down that road.

When asked squarely by a reporter Wednesday morning whether or not the House is in the middle of an impeachment inquiry, Hoyer said no, bucking what House Judiciary Committee members have been saying since August, following the release of the Mueller report.

When asked to explain what needs to happen procedurally to determine whether or not Congress is actually engaged in an impeachment investigation, Hoyer seemed to reverse his course. “What the Speaker and I believe is that we have a constitutional responsibility to oversee the executive department. Part of that is determining whether the executive department and or the president of the United States have committed crimes or manners inconsistent with the law — which may or may not be a crime in a criminal sense. And the committee is pursuing that.”

“Well, we keep trying to parse it,” Hoyer added. “Well the criteria would be, if you’re going to be in an impeachment consideration — is a resolution that is drafted under consideration by the committee and or voted to proceed by the House. In either event, I don’t think that’s what happened. … They are continuing the search for truth.”

House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler has said that his committee is already engaged in “formal impeachment proceedings” and will determine later whether to recommend articles of impeachment to the full House. Hoyer’s statement comes a day before Nadler’s committee is set to vote on procedures that they say will set the terms for an impeachment investigation going forward. That move comes after the committee filed court documents in July that explicitly laid out the possibility of impeachment.

Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have repeatedly argued to Democratic members that the public is not in favor of impeachment and that more investigation is needed before the House moves forward on the issue.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Hoyer again tried to clarify his remarks and said he “strongly support[s]” Nadler’s investigation. “I thought the question was in regards to whether the full House is actively considering articles of impeachment, which we are not at this time. ... It is critical that Congress have access to all of the relevant facts, and we will follow those facts wherever they lead, including impeachment,” he said.


This story was updated with an additional statement from Hoyer.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.