Nancy Pelosi: “I’m not for impeachment”

That’s the smart play. She said: “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.”

This echoed the words of 443 legal scholars who wrote a joint letter to Newt Gingrich in 1998. It read:

“The House’s power to impeach, like a prosecutor’s power to indict, is discretionary. This power must be exercised not for partisan advantage, but only when circumstances genuinely justify the enormous price the nation will pay in governance and stature if its President is put through a long, public, voyeuristic trial.”

I agree with that, but I would add one more clause to the last sentence: “especially one which offers absolutely no possibility of a conviction in the existing Senate.”

And the Senate will not change until Trump himself is up for re-election, so the only way to beat him is at the ballot box.

Pelosi may be standing on a correct principle, but more important, she is being pragmatic. The House Democrats can only lose by impeaching Trump. A show trial in the Senate is not only divisive, but it could not produce a conviction, and might energize Trump’s supporters for the next election. Moreover, the ultimate verdict would allow Trump to crow that he was totally exonerated, offering him political advantages, and solidifying his supporters’ perception that he has been unfairly harassed.

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Absolutely no possibility of conviction. Let’s suppose there was a tape of Trump and Putin talking. Trump says, “You help me win the election and I’ll remove the sanctions.” Would the Senate convict with that perfect smoking gun? Maybe. Maybe not.

Think about that. That’s the world we live it, where the answer to a question like that is “maybe.”

If such evidence involved any other president, he would be removed. But this is not 1974, or even 1998. Even if such a convenient smoking gun magically appeared, I’m not convinced that 67 Senators would vote to convict. Yes, I know I’m jaded and cynical. I have always been jaded and cynical, which means that I seemed to have too little faith in our leaders in the past. They sometimes shocked me and did the right thing. But the world has changed so much that I now seem to have exactly the right amount of faith.

11 thoughts on “Nancy Pelosi: “I’m not for impeachment”

  1. Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to negotiate with Trump during the shutdown was also divisive. It’s kind of shocking that she stood with that given that she’s normally extremely cautious, as we see here.

    I disagree that this is pragmatic politically. At the time of the 2008 election, many people were saying it would take Republicans 10 years to get back into power. Yet, there they were back in control of the House after just two years.

    I think there is no question that one reason they were able to do this is because Nancy Pelosi refused to hold hearings over the Bush Administration’s lies leading to the Iraq War and this allowed the Republican Party to simply cut bait on the Bush Administration.

    It’s this cautious (cowardly) behavior of Nancy Pelosi that many Democrats are tired of and why they look to aggressive new leaders like AOC, whether they agree with AOC on specific issues or not.

    After this term, it’s time for Nancy Pelosi and the entire old House Democratic leadership to go.

    1. Bottom line: a trial in the Senate is a win for Trump, and a disaster for the Democrats. Impeachment, therefore, would be at best quixotic, at worst suicidal.

      1. I don’t agree. Trump is obviously going to take this refusal by Pelosi to allow for impeachment hearings as a similar vindication:

        “These fake news promoters say I’m guilty of collusion but they know they don’t really have a case because they won’t even launch impeachment hearings. If they had a case, they’d try to impeach me in a second. Believe me, believe me.”

        1. Trump will spin any bad news as a positive for himself.

          There’s no advantage to be had from impeachment when McConnell will block it. Hell, I’d more worried if he didn’t.

          Not negotiating with Trump over the shutdown was something else. She knew he would fold. Trump’s a wimp.

          In the mean time its probably better to pass good looking legislation like the election bill. Trump’s not the real enemy, GOP Senators are. If you can make them look bad in the next year then you might be in better a position to force good legislation or even an impeachment if desired.

      2. Depends what Trump is impeached for. What you say is true for all of the currently discussed arguably impeachable offenses. But it’s not hard to imagine Trump being caught doing something that no (or very few) Republican Senators could defend him for. If he’s simply caught on tape using the N-word, he’s toast in the Senate, I’d suggest.

        We haven’t heard Cohen’s tapes yet.

      3. It could also be quixotic/suicidal for a different reason. The Republicans might take the chance to vomit out/distance themselves from Trump and let Pence run as the incumbent.
        Unlike Trump’s incompetent evil, Pence would likely start 8:00, day 1, with Jesus-lasers.

        1. Y’know, I realize that Mike Pence is just a boring, dumb guy, but that’s starting to sound kind of good.

  2. Sadly, I think Adam is right. We are in a lose, lose, lose situation. Trump’s shtick is impossible to beat. Those that are smart and support him do so because it’s personally beneficial for him (or they like the racial divisiveness and hated being under the rule of a black president for 8 years). The rest are dumb enough to believe everikemword he says, often going to far as to view him as an instrument of God. He is truly Teflon Don.

    We have seen ever bad, awful thing he’s done. We know he’s guilty (to what level we aren’t sure), but who cares? Nothing has happened.he spins all of it. Hen he made an enemy of the press immediately it was the single smartest thing he could do. His base only gets the “facts” as he sells them. The press paved the way for this, sadly. They have certainly attempted to 180…but it was too late. God what I wouldn’t give for real, honest and trustworthy journalism.

    Instead we have 30 articles on him saying “Tim Apple” that are just as dumb as anything on Fox News. And that’s saying a lot. Scoop, it makes me appreciate your daily/weekly takes because it doesn’t feel like someone just spinnning facts to appease me.

  3. In regards to the Republican U.S Senate not supporting Trump’s conviction, I go with this:

    Oliver Willis

    Verified account

    @owillis
    7h7 hours ago
    More Oliver Willis Retweeted Cass
    i dunno i think “mitch mcconnell won’t remove the obviously criminal president” is a potent election message but im a simple country lawyer

  4. Pence is a complete tool of the “Religious” Right and they expect him to be nominated in 24 as payback for their having helped him get in. I see the Big Kaboom coming when the OB decides that family is more reliable than toady when it comes to keeping his own butt covered legally and moves to have Diaper Donnie get the nomination. The GOP will irretrievably split at that point – Trump Cultists and the Tea Party vs. the RR. Which way the NRA sends their adherents is anyone’s guess.
    The new second party should be up and running by 28.

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