There was some sad news for progressives yesterday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Washington Post Magazine that she will not pursue impeachment against President Donald Trump. It’s not just Pelosi: House intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff also came out against trying to remove the president from office, saying “failed impeachment is a bad idea,” and that it can’t happen “in the absence of very graphic evidence.”
The speaker claimed “he’s just not worth it,” but anyone who has read a newspaper or turned on the television in the past two years knows full well that if Democrats believed there were serious evidence of collusion between Russia and Trump, articles of impeachment would be flying out of printers in her office.
Just back in January, speaking about the Roger Stone case, Pelosi said “It’s also bothersome his [Stone’s] and the president’s suggestion that’s that we should question whether we should be in NATO, which is a dream come true for Vladimir Putin.” Back in July of 2017, Pelosi promised there is “cold, hard evidence” of collusion between Russia and the Trump family.
Less than a month ago, Schiff was even more bullish on the collusion question. He told CNN, “You can see evidence in plain sight on the issue of collusion, pretty compelling evidence.”
One thing is clear to any fair observer: if Pelosi and Schiff really believed their outlandish rhetoric on Russian collusion, they would be moving to impeach the president. If they believed, as they previously claimed, that there is clear evidence to show Trump is in bed with Putin, they could not move fast enough to present that evidence and force Republicans to defend an obviously compromised commander in chief. The fact is, they don’t have the evidence, and they don’t expect Special Counsel Robert Mueller to provide it.
Essentially, thus ends two wasted years of bloated claims that Trump is a puppet in Putin’s pocket, taking instruction from Moscow in the most audacious corruption of a democracy in the history of democracy. No reasonable person can conclude that if Pelosi and the rest of her caucus thought they could prove collusion that they would not do so. They can’t. That is why, despite the current progressive winds and the bloviating of young representatives like Rashida Tlaib, who promised to “impeach the motherf-cker,” they will not actually be impeaching the motherf-cker.
Despite the merry band of socialists in Congress who want to scorch the earth beneath Trump, Pelosi, Schiff, and other relatively serious people understand that a kinda, maybe, sort of impeachment doomed to fail in the Senate would be a disaster. This is an admission that fantastical claims that Putin is calling the shots were little more than a 2018 midterm campaign slogan. It was successful, perhaps, but ultimately just not quite true.
This leaves the question: What next? Democrats have promised investigations into Trump, his children, and his business. If Trump had a dog they would probably check to see if it’s up on its shots. But without impeachment, without the actual means by which to remove him, wouldn’t this just seem like sour “there’s no collusion” grapes? In this regard, Trump’s shift from talking about impeachment to talking about “harassment” from a Democratic Congress more interested in revenge than legislation looks like a master stroke.
In Democrats’ push for probes into Trump’s past and businesses, they risk a collective eye roll from all but their most ardent supporters. If they spend their time trying to figure out if the president valued assets inappropriately to insurance companies instead of working with him on legislation, they risk looking like the witch hunters that Trump claims they are.
One final note for the cynical among us. The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway just happened a few months ago to sit near Rep. Jerry Nadler on an Acela train from New York to DC. He had several loud phone conversations. In one, he explained that impeachment hasn’t polled very well.
This is probably, at the end of the day, why Pelosi is frustrating the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed far lefties in her caucus. But make no mistake: if she thought they had the goods on Trump, she’d move to impeach faster than Carl Lewis on performance-enhancing drugs.
The picture-perfect punctuation to this entire affair came from Rep. Steny Hoyer responding to the potential disappointment of the new cadre of woke Democratic socialists: “We’ve got 62 new (Democratic) members. Not three.” The three he was referring to are Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib.
Are the adults trying to take back the Democratic Party’s mojo? And is it too late? The answer to both questions is very likely yes.