House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed the impeachment proceedings by four weeks before passing the articles to the Senate for a trial to begin. Her latest move has made the impeachment trial start less than three weeks before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.
The trial is now poised to sequester in Washington the four Democratic senators running for president. The proceedings will likely run clear up to the first-in-the-nation caucus, and the timing could not be worse for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is surging at precisely the right moment in the Hawkeye State.
Real Clear Politics’ latest aggregate of polls show Sanders in a dead heat with former Vice President Joe Biden while former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren follow close behind. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is polling in a steady fifth, affording the midwestern senator a slim opportunity to be a surprise candidate in a state with a notorious reputation for unpredictable caucuses.
Sanders, however, clearly has momentum at a critical point in the primary that will now be interrupted by the impeachment proceedings. The fact that the impeachment trial will trap Sanders, Warren, and Klobuchar in the nation’s capital for the final days before the caucus leave the state wide open to Biden and Buttigieg in the senators’ absence.
Pelosi’s bizarre and politically unwise decision to delay impeachment until this crucial moment provokes the question, then, of whether Pelosi deliberately held up the impeachment trial to sabotage the far-left senators’ campaigns.
The Democratic impeachment effort gained nothing from Pelosi withholding the articles from the upper chamber. The House speaker claims to have held back the articles until promises were made for a “fair” trial in the Senate through a pledge from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to welcome new witnesses to testify. Yet Pelosi never had any leverage to begin with. The worst consequence from Pelosi never handing over the articles? That the Senate refrained from moving forward with an impeachment trial that it never wanted to entertain in the first place.
Pelosi did further damage to her cause by undercutting a key component meant to justify the rushed proceedings in the House by refusing to submit the articles of impeachment to the Senate until weeks after they were passed. Had President Trump actually been an urgent danger to the republic, as Democrats screamed, Pelosi would have marched the articles across Capitol Hill the very moment they were approved by the House.
After a futile four-week attempt to manipulate the rules of the Senate impeachment trial, Pelosi gave up and released the articles to the Senate without a single concession from McConnell. One has to wonder, then, if Pelosi’s actions were a charade to keep the party’s far-left senators from campaigning in Iowa rather than securing subpoenas for new witnesses to testify.
It wouldn’t be the first time that establishment elites in the Democratic Party rigged the race in support of their chosen candidate. In 2016, it was Hillary Clinton. This year it appears to be former Vice President Joe Biden.
The Democratic establishment is certainly concerned about Bernie. Last fall, Politico reported that President Barack Obama privately remarked that he would speak out in the race if it looked as if Sanders appeared close to clinching the nomination.
In 2017, former chair of the Democratic National Committee Donna Brazile accused Clinton of executing a “secret takeover” of the DNC at the onset of the 2016 primary. As the Iowa caucuses came around and Sanders looked as if he might pull an upset, Democratic Party officials engaged in questionable conduct to swing the state for Clinton.
According to The Guardian, the Iowa Democratic Party unilaterally shifted one delegate from Sanders to Clinton in a precinct without notifying the precinct secretary. While the transition of one delegate from a candidate to another did not alter the results of the caucus, it raises further questions over the party’s attempts to control the process in Clinton’s favor.
The Des Moines Register reported in 2016 that numerous Iowans claimed Sanders was being shorted delegates in the caucus against Clinton. One Iowan told the Register that he was the lone caucusgoer and voted for Sanders, but the Iowa Democratic Party’s official results showed Clinton claiming the county.
“I voted for Bernie,” Keane Schwartz told the Register. “It was really suspicious… I’m actually pretty irate about it.”
Clinton barely edged out a victory in the state, carrying it 49.9 percent to Sanders’ 49.6. As Pelosi now conveniently signs over the articles of impeachment to the Senate with less than three weeks to caucus day, it begs the question: did Pelosi halt the proceedings to hurt Bernie again?