Immediately after impeaching President Donald Trump for allegedly obstructing the House and abusing his power as president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi obstructed the Senate’s constitutional obligation to hold an impeachment trial and abused her power by trying to steal power that belongs solely to the Senate under the Constitution. Pelosi told reporters on Thursday that she is in no rush to formally transmit to the Senate the articles of impeachment her party in the House had just approved. Here are six reasons Pelosi’s impeachment obstruction stunt undermines the entire basis of the Democrats’ effort to eject Trump from office.
1) After impeaching Trump for supposed obstruction of House, Pelosi moves to obstruct the Senate
Pelosi said she’ll wait to send over the articles until she finds out how the Senate will conduct the trial, which looks a lot like obstructing the Senate, given that the Constitution clearly states that the Senate has “the sole power to try all [i]mpeachments.” The Constitutional process for impeachment is that the House impeaches and the Senate holds a trial to test the quality of the accusations and the guilt or innocence of the accused. Pelosi apparently wants to control the Senate process from her perch in the House, a power grab that looks a lot like an abuse of power.
What’s crazy about this is that one of the articles of impeachment against the President is that he must be removed from office for the “obstruction of Congress” by asserting his privilege and protecting executive branch communications. If Trump, asserting constitutional privilege as the head of the executive branch, has to be quickly removed from office because he’s not providing a single chamber of Congress what it wants, Pelosi is obstructing the Senate by asserting a privilege to not formally transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial, and abusing her power by demanding authority that under the Constitution belongs to the Senate, not the Speaker of the House.
2) After denying Trump any due process, Pelosi is now denying him a speedy trial
One of the big complaints about the House investigation was that the process followed by Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., denied the president any due process rights. It’s also why the investigation failed to get a single Republican to join with Democrats in their impeachment stunt.
After ignoring the principles of due process guaranteed in the Fifth Amendment, Pelosi’s gambit now is to deny Trump the principle of a speedy trial enshrined in the Sixth Amendment.
The common refrain is that Trump should not be above the law. That’s absolutely true. Nobody should be above the law. It’s also true that nobody is below the law. Over the last three years, however, the so-called Resistance has placed Trump below the law, the target of illegitimate and spurious investigations and impeachments with pre-ordained conclusions. That may be how politics is achieved, but it’s not how justice is achieved.
Police states levy charges, destroy the reputations of their target, deny the accused the ability to do their jobs and, importantly, the chance to ever get out from under the charges.
The "prosecutors office" says: "He's a dangerous criminal! We promise! He must be taken off the streets!"
But, they don't want a trial? They just want accused people convicted because they said so?
The "prosecutors office" now fancies themselves: accuser, judge & jury. pic.twitter.com/N9rPpLdark
— In_communicado_ (@In_communicado_) December 19, 2019
Democrats knew that Trump would never be removed from office based on the flimsy charges they put against him. They did hope to tarnish his name and harm him in the 2020 election — which is interesting, since their other charge against him is that he can’t conduct foreign policy or investigations that might in any way touch on a potential 2020 election opponent. If they want a cloud over him through the election, denying him the right to a speedy trial makes sure he can’t be acquitted as quickly as possible.
You might call this the Gitmo approach. By treating him as an enemy combatant instead of an American citizen with certain rights, the Democrats can continue to play politics with this indefinitely. Consider it the political version of indefinite detention. The only problem is that only the most hard-core Resistance find this approach fair or reasonable.
3) Pelosi has no leverage
Preventing people from wasting their time on something that they don’t want to waste their time on is not a victory. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would likely rather do anything other than waste his time on an impeachment process that House Democrats failed to manage well, and said as much on Thursday morning.
“Frankly, I’m not anxious to have the trial, if she [Pelosi] thinks her case is so weak she doesn’t want to send it over, throw me into that briar patch,” he told reporters.
Pelosi thinks that holding the articles of impeachment somehow gives her leverage to control how the Senate trial is conducted. But McConnell would probably rather chew gum and confirm judges and keep accomplishing his agenda rather than waste valuable time dealing with an impeachment that has zero chance of resulting in Trump’s removal from office. Pelosi’s threat simply has no weight. Plus, committees in the Senate can handle investigations and throw cold water on the Democrats’ impeachment narrative even without formally receiving the articles from the House.
4) Pelosi’s obstruction gambit shows her own lack of confidence in Schiff’s work product
McConnell’s plan, upon receipt of the articles, is to run the process the exact same way that Democrats ran the process during the Clinton impeachment. That plan was to receive the articles and hear the case for and against them before deciding on the next course of action. The next course of action could be to dismiss them, to vote them up or down, or to get more evidence to make a decision. Pelosi wants McConnell to agree to Democratic demands on the front end, before the House case is made.
If House Democrats had done their job properly and brought real articles of impeachment to a vote, they wouldn’t just have some Republican support, they could proudly deliver those articles of impeachment with a bow on the same day they voted on them.
They want more witnesses called because they know that they didn’t do their job even remotely well. It shows a cavalier approach to impeachment.
5) Refusing to transmit impeachment articles undercuts Democrats’ claim that Trump is an “urgent threat” to America
Democrats’ defense of their shoddy impeachment effort was that they had to rush through things in order to get Trump removed before the 2020 election. They claimed Trump was such an “urgent threat” to American national security and the U.S. constitution that he had to be charged and removed from office post-haste. That was never a particularly strong argument, but Pelosi’s attempt to indefinitely delay any resolution of the impeachment effort she rammed through the House shows it was an argument that her own party didn’t even believe. Delaying the transmission of the articles to the Senate for even a moment, let alone weeks or months, destroys Democrats’ claim about the urgent need for impeachment.
6) Democrats continue to destroy norms and institutions while claiming Trump is the real norm destroyer
The last three years of the Resistance–whether in the media, from Democrats, in the bureaucracy, or among NeverTrump activists — has been the story of the destruction of Constitutional norms and institutions. These activists regularly set dynamite at the base of every institution and norm and clack it off — all while decrying Trump as the real saboteur. Whether it was the Mueller probe, the abuse of civil liberties of Trump affiliates, the spurious effort to remove him via manipulation of the Electoral College or the 25th amendment, or the disgusting assaults on Brett Kavanaugh and his family, the Resistance has decided any use of presidential power by a president they don’t like is wrong and maybe even criminal.
Hillary Clinton made much of Trump’s statement during a presidential debate that he’d wait to see the outcome of the election and how it was run before saying he’d agree to the results. This impeachment, though, is the culmination of a multi-year refusal of Democrats to accept the results of the 2016 election. For all the accusations that Trump is destroying vital American norms and institution, it is the continued refusal of Democrats, media, and NeverTrump activists to accept the results of an election they lost that represents the gravest threat to our system of government.