Hey, Nancy Pelosi could have said worse things about Donald Trump. In fact, the House Speaker has said worse things about the president than he’s not worth the effort of impeachment, which may indicate that Trump had his tongue firmly in cheek when tweeting out his appreciation this morning. He even threaded the tweets, an unusual occurrence on presidential Twitter:
….a man who is considered by many to be the President with the most successful first two years in history, especially when he has done nothing wrong and impeachment is for “high crimes and misdemeanors”?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2019
It sounds less tongue-in-cheek than annoyed over the idea of impeachment at all. He greatly appreciates Pelosi’s decision to avoid impeachment without concrete evidence of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” but Trump understandably didn’t appreciate that Pelosi didn’t argue that he hadn’t committed them in the first place.
However, this is almost certainly Trump trolling Democrats over Pelosi’s decision. There’s only one problem with that, and that’s whether Pelosi has the juice to stop impeachment even if she’s motivated to do so. Byron York hears from Ways and Means ranking member Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), who warns that Pelosi can’t stop House Democrats from their “rush to impeachment”:
“Respectfully, I don’t buy it,” he said. The reason, he explained, is not that he doubts Pelosi’s sentiments. It is that he doubts her ability to impose her will on House Democrats.
“The Speaker, while she controls the House, doesn’t control her own party,” Brady said. “And there is a real rush to impeachment here in the House. We’re seeing that with [Judiciary Committee chairman] Jerry Nadler, we’re seeing it with the investigative committees, we’re seeing it in the Ways and Means Committee.”
Brady pointed to recent moments when Democratic opposition forced Pelosi to back down from her personal positions. “The Speaker wasn’t for term limits; her party forced her to do it. She wasn’t for watering down the anti-Semitism resolution; her party forced her to do it. She’s not for Medicare-for-all; she says her party is forcing her to do it.”
This leads me back to my earlier argument about Pelosi, which Brady hints at here. This series of setbacks demonstrate weakness in House Democratic leadership and a generational disconnect between them and their backbenchers. As a result, the inmates are now running the asylum rather than Pelosi:
Rather than act with the same level of power on a repeated offense as McCarthy had demonstrated with King, the speaker hesitated as Omar’s fellow progressives — most of them from the frosh class as well — rallied to her side. The vacillation gave room for the Congressional Black Caucus to rally around Omar — in one instance, literally — in a direct challenge to Pelosi’s authority. The measure changed from a reprimand of Omar to a non-specific rebuke of anti-Semitism, and then Pelosi retreated further to change the resolution to a generic denunciation of hate in general that was so far removed from the original offense that even Omar voted for it — while laughing.
The contrast between the two episodes could not be more dramatic. McCarthy, who only held the gavel a few months before losing the last election, stood up to a nine-term incumbent who served on a number of important committees. Pelosi retreated when faced with a first-term backbencher and could not even bring herself to remain firm on a resolution denouncing anti-Semitism on its own.
This is not the behavior of someone who commands authority within her caucus. It’s the behavior of someone who’s afraid of her caucus. Pelosi might hold the gavel and have the office, but she’s not wielding any authority or power.
Even assuming Pelosi’s serious about wanting to avoid impeachment, she may be in no position to dictate a stop to it. Rep. Al Green made it clear yesterday that the fringe would fight to get votes on it until they finally win one, and that fringe feels a lot more empowered after the Omar disaster than they did earlier. Brady’s not buying it, and Trump shouldn’t count his chickens this early in the House session either.