Pelosi denies ‘trying to run out the clock’ on impeachment

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to her Democratic critics Friday who say she’s not moving fast enough on impeaching President Donald Trump and promised her approach wouldn’t be “endless.”

“No, I’m not trying to run out the clock,” Pelosi said at a news conference on Capitol Hill. “Let’s get sophisticated about this, OK?”

Pelosi repeated her long-standing position that in order to get to impeachment, the party will proceed at a deliberate pace and would only do so with the strongest hand possible.

“We will proceed when we have what we need to proceed, not one day sooner,” she said. “And everybody has the liberty and the luxury to espouse their own position and to criticize me for trying to go down the path in the most determined positive way.”

More than 90 Democratic members — roughly 40% of the party’s caucus — have publicly stated that they support starting an impeachment inquiry, including a handful who made their decision following the hearings this week from former special counsel Robert Mueller.

CNN reported Thursday that House Democrats who are publicly and privately agitating to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump are growing worried that their time is running short — and that they are missing key opportunities to give them a clear opening to mount a formal probe.

“Their advocacy for impeachment only gives me leverage,” Pelosi said Friday of impeachment supporters. “I have no complaint with what they are doing.”

Pelosi said she’ll continue to stay the course, adding she’s “willing to take whatever heat there is.”

“The decision will be made in a timely fashion,” she said. “This isn’t endless, and when we have a best strongest possible case,” she said. “And that’s not endless either. It may be endless in terms of the violations of the law that the president is engaged in. But that’s what I say to you.”

New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who would be in charge of leading an impeachment inquiry, has repeatedly made a behind-the-scenes case to Pelosi and others to begin a probe, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. Nadler has told his colleagues that there are moments with the country paying close attention that would give them a clear opportunity to formally open up an inquiry, according to people who have spoken to him, with Democrats pointing to the immediate aftermath of Mueller’s report and this week’s public testimony as those key times.

CNN’s Jeremy Herb contributed to this report.