Terry H. Schwadron
March 13, 2019
Nancy Pelosi is right, of course, but for the wrong reason.
Impeachment efforts are likely futile, because at the end of the day, not enough Senate Republicans will vote to convict, no matter what the set of portending impeachment charges might hold.
Nancy Pelosi is also dead wrong. Her sense that it is more important to keep some sense of unity in the country puts the President above enforcement of any laws. And that’s not right, no matter what.
In an interview with The Washington Post Magazine, Pelosi says flatly that she opposes impeachment. Her comments are the strongest indication yet that Democratic leaders intend to let voters — and not impeachment hearings — decide this issue in 2020. But while that’s probably the safest and most politically prudent course, that doesn’t mean her party will accept it.
“I’m not for impeachment,” Pelosi said. “This is news. I’m going to give you some news right now because I haven’t said this to any press person before. But since you asked, and I’ve been thinking about this: Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country.”
Ah, that key word — bipartisan. All betting is it won’t happen.
Pelosi was being seen as shrewd by speaking to impeachment as a relative impossibility as taking the “victim” card out of Trump’s hands. At the same time, she laid down a challenge to Republicans who somehow don’t see obstruction of justice as a high crime and misdeamor.
Above all, Nancy Pelosi is premature in her judgment. We don’t have Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report about the degree to which conspiracies and crimes were committed between the Trump campaign and would-be Russian interference in our election operations.
We don’t have the full accounts of Trump associates as their more than 100 contacts during the campaign with Russian operatives. We don’t have the results of the Southern District of New York’s continuing investigations into campaign finance law violations and other misdoings of the Trump Organization in its many public faces.
And we don’t have the results of the public questioning by a Democratic House about performance in office and during the campaign from those who were part of that story.
Unlike President Trump’s blanket “witch hunt” remarks, his totally sarcastic dismissal of “no collusion,” charges, there have been a number of convictions, and plenty of evidence about Russian interference. Just how they all knit together to form possible intended conspiracies are still a matter of speculation rather than evidence.
But the single, salient factor in all this has nothing to do with wrong-doing. It has to do with the over-weaning loyalty being extended to the president by members of his own political party that would make a mockery of any eventual impeachment proceedings.
Nancy Pelosi added about Trump: “And he’s just not worth it.”
Pelosi wasn’t saying that we should wait to see what the evidence says; she was saying she opposes impeachment, preferring a judgment at the ballot box.
As a practical matter, it would take about two years for any impeachment effort to get under way, putting us at the election anyway. But that’s not the strongest arguments here. The longer Democrats run the clock — even while investigating Trump — the easier it would be to say that this should just be left to voters.
In the late 1990s, America witnessed how badly impeachment could reflect upon the impeaching party. Even as it was accepted that Bill Clinton had engaged in an affair in the White House, lied under oath and obstructed justice, people still stood by him.
Still there are a lot of us who believe that Trump should be held accountable — and now. Polls show about three-quarters of Democratic voters favor impeachment already. Nearly half the country believes Trump has committed crimes while in office. Freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-MI, made waves in January by telling supporters that the House should “impeach the motherf — — -.” Rep. Brad Sherman, D-CA, has introduced articles of impeachment. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff , D-CA, has said there is “direct evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 campaign, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, has said it’s clear that Trump has obstructed justice.
Neither Schiff nor Nadler advocate impeachment yet, but what if the evidencebecomes damning?
What is critical here is not Nancy Pelosi’s opinion. Rather it is some signal from Senate Republicans that the president should not be held above the law.