Nancy Pelosi’s latest logic, at least according to the linked article, is that Trump will go to prison if defeated in 2020, so she would rather defeat him in an election than impeach him.
Maybe she really said that. Maybe she didn’t.
There is some logic to that strategy. Cohen has already gone to jail for an act Trump asked him to do, and their conversation is on tape, so there’s a pretty clean case against him. The strategy does not pay off, however, if Trump wins re-election. He would be unlikely to face justice in that case because he is much more likely to die in office between 2020 and 2024 that he would be to face criminal charges in 2025. After all, in 2024 he will be a 78-year-old fat man. There are not a lot of those in the world.
If I were advising Pelosi, I would advise her to open an impeachment investigation, but slow-walk the hell out of it. Do not move it into the Senate, where Trump would get “cleared,” before the 2020 election. Just drag it out, and time all the worst revelations to occur during the election campaign. That would leave Trump trying to run for office as he is being investigated. The trick is for the House to run an impeachment investigation without ever bringing the charges, thus never allowing Trump to get cleared by the Senate.
Starting that investigation would also mollify the members of the Democratic left wing, who have been restively clamoring for just that.
Furthermore, Madam Speaker, do not publicly admit that is your strategy. You just say everything must be duly considered, and that process takes time. It will be easy enough to slow-walk it, because Trump will presumably continue to stonewall the evidence – thus slowing down the process and sealing his own doom. You leave Trump pinned in an unwinnable dilemma – if he gives up the damning evidence to speed up the investigation, he’s screwed – if he does not give up the evidence, the investigation continues throughout the presidential election, with uglier headlines and more obstruction charges every day.
Once the 2020 election is complete:
- If Trump wins, finally bring the charges, especially if he loses the Senate.
- If Trump loses, drop the investigation and let the criminal investigators handle it. There’s no point in impeaching a lame duck.
Sure, running an impeachment investigation without ever intending to conclude it before the election is a dirty trick. That’s what politics is all about. That’s exactly what Mitch McConnell would do in her shoes. Ask Merrick Garland. If you want to beat ol’ Mitch, play by the same rules.
An impeachment investigation also has the additional bonus of overriding “executive privilege.” If Trump comes up with excuses to withhold evidence while he is being formally investigated, that per se would be another instance of obstruction. Every time he comes up with an excuse to hide evidence – tack on another count!