House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dug in this week on her strategy to save Democrats’ futile attempt to reverse the results of the 2016 presidential election through impeachment. Pelosi reaffirmed to Democrats behind closed doors Tuesday that she would continue to refuse handing over the passed articles of impeachment to the upper chamber until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell caved to Democratic demands on how the trial will be conducted.
House Democrats passed two articles of impeachment days before Christmas last month, charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The articles, which were passed by a nearly uniform partisan vote with no Republican support, have since been on Pelosi’s desk waiting to be passed to the Senate for trial.
Directly after their passage, however, Pelosi announced she would hold the articles hostage until McConnell outlined procedures for the coming trial and has shown no signs of backing down. Pelosi’s decision to halt the process appears a desperate attempt to save the impeachment effort after a disastrous process rushed in the House failed to surface any incriminating evidence against president.
Democrats conducted only four weeks of public hearings, calling witnesses whose testimony either destroyed their own credibility or exonerated the president. As a result, public opinion went underwater on impeachment, dashing Democrat hopes of drumming up enough support to apply adequate pressure on Republicans to support impeachment. Real Clear Politics’ latest aggregate of polling on the issue shows a statistical tie among those who believe Trump should be removed from office and those who do not.
On the day of the impeachment vote, a majority of the American public paid little mind to the historic proceedings unfolding in the House, baffling media elites who couldn’t understand why ordinary Americans went on with their lives rather than focus on the predictable partisan circus in Washington.
“It was a momentous day in American history. But, by all indications, it was not a momentous day in the lives of most Americans,” The New York Times declared. “As history played out Wednesday amid the bombast and rancor of impeachment proceedings, many of them seemed intent on looking elsewhere.”
Now Democrats are turning to prolonging a Senate trial to unearth evidence the House failed to find, perhaps because the evidence doesn’t exist.
Pelosi Has No Leverage
By withholding the articles of impeachment, Pelosi is banking on McConnell agreeing to call additional witnesses to testify in the Senate trial. If Democrats had taken the process seriously, however, these witnesses would have been called at the start of the impeachment inquiry in September, when House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California ran backroom secret hearings to pre-interview witnesses prior to its public proceedings.
Pelosi however, has no leverage on the issue. The worst consequences of Pelosi indefinitely withholding the articles of impeachment? The Senate doesn’t proceed with a sham partisan trial launched by Democrats who refused to accept the results of the 2016 election. That’s hardly an undesirable outcome for Senate Republicans, who have shown little appetite for entertaining Democrats’ bogus impeachment. More than a dozen GOP senators have already joined Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri in a motion to dismiss the coming trial altogether.
Alternatively, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has proposed the Senate change the rules dictating impeachment to begin the trial without Pelosi’s approval. McConnell has endorsed the idea and Graham has begun preparing the resolution, according to The Hill.
Whether Graham and McConnell have the votes yet remains to be seen. The fact remains that McConnell has no incentive to bow to Pelosi’s demands to receive articles that Republicans never wanted to see in the first place.
Senate Democrats Are Turning on Pelosi
Democrats are already turning against Pelosi’s losing strategy and publicly urging the House speaker to hand over the articles to allow the process to continue its next phase. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California became the latest Democratic senator Wednesday to abandon Pelosi on the issue and push for the speaker’s release of the articles passed last month.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Connecticut Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal agree that it’s time for Pelosi to move on and let the Senate take its turn.
“If we’re going to do it, she should send them over. I don’t see what good delay does,” Feinstein told Bloomberg. “I don’t see what good a delay does.” It’s not doing Democrats any good.
Republicans’ Case Is Only Getting Stronger
Pelosi’s desperate decision to keep the articles in her possession has undercut the entire premise of the Democrats’ rushed impeachment alleging Trump to be an urgent threat to the republic whose need for immediate removal prompted hasty action by the House.
Pelosi’s actions following the articles’ passage exposes for the impeachment process for what it really is: a partisan action taken for the sole purpose of achieving the top item on Democrats’ policy agenda since even before Trump’s triumphant victory. Had Trump really been a true threat to the survival of American democracy, Pelosi would have marched the articles straight across Capitol Hill the very moment they were passed.
Instead, for every day that goes by that Pelosi keeps her hand on the articles, the Republicans’ case against impeachment grows stronger as the American people realize how much of a farce the entire process against Trump really is. If Pelosi never allows the trial to move forward, why impeach the president in the first place?
Pelosi Is Interfering With the 2020 Democratic Primary
Five Democratic senators are currently still vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, and the coming impeachment trial threatens to trap leading candidates in Washington D.C. in the midst of what is likely to become a competitive primary following Iowa and New Hampshire.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Michael Bennet of Colorado are each threatened by the coming trial.
The longer Pelosi waits to allow a trial to proceed, the deeper into the primary Democratic senators seeking the nomination will be stuck on Capitol Hill rather than campaigning in subsequent contest states. That might grant an opening to former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is at the top of polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, but that’s bad news for Warren and Sanders, who are also top-tier contenders.
The race’s frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden, is also not immune to the impeachment chaos. To the contrary, Biden is at the center of it. Democrats allege Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to interfere in the upcoming election by launching an investigation into the Biden family based on a July 25 phone call in exchange for the release of nearly $400 million in military aid.
An unredacted transcript of the phone call was declassified and released by the White House revealing no such arrangement. What the call did reveal was the American president urging the Ukrainian president to investigate the origins of its peddling the Russian collusion hoax in the United States and to root out corruption in his country. The Biden family is at the heart of the corruption Trump mentioned.
While dictating U.S. policy towards Ukraine as vice president, Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company earning $50,000 a month despite no prior experience in the industry. A Federalist analysis on Hunter Biden’s compensation exposes Hunter’s level of payment to be far, far higher than that of an experienced board member at a comparable company.
As Pelosi drags out impeachment, the Biden family’s questionable arrangement in Ukraine will remain in the spotlight while hampering senators’ ability to campaign at the height of the Democratic primary.