With all due respect to the Fox News news desk, I’m skeptical. What would it even mean to say, “We should go down there and arrest the man”? Suddenly I’m picturing her leading an elite team of 20 Democratic congressmen dressed in SWAT gear into the White House and fighting their way past the Secret Service to the Oval Office.
Maybe followed by a hot pursuit through the streets of D.C. after Trump flees out the back door and hops behind the wheel of the presidential limo to make his getaway.
Also, arrest him for what? The only power Congress has to detain people as far as I know is to enforce a contempt citation, and Trump hasn’t been held in contempt. (Although House Dems would love to do so in order to rebuke his many assertions of executive privilege over witnesses and documents they’ve demanded.) If you believe the Times, even Bill Barr might end up dodging a contempt vote.
So what the hell would this even mean?
Nancy Pelosi suggested this week that Democratic leaders should look beyond the short-term question of whether to pursue impeachment against President Trump – something the House speaker is loath to do considering the high political risk and low chance of success – to the possibility of pursuing charges against him once he leaves office.
Pelosi, D-Calif., reportedly referenced this scenario in a meeting with Democrats this week. Politico reported that the House speaker told top committee chairmen: “I don’t want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison.”…
Several House Democratic sources told Fox News that Pelosi has said similar things about Trump in past caucus meetings, such as “we should go down there and arrest the man.” The sources said Pelosi is trying to put any action off until after the election, making the case that Democrats should defeat Trump in 2020 — and then seek prosecution after he leaves office.
That sounds like Pelosi overcompensating rhetorically for the fact that she doesn’t want to impeach Trump. She has upwards of 60 people in her caucus pressing her to open impeachment proceedings; in order to hold them off, she may feel obliged to talk tough — ridiculously, unrealistically tough — in private to reassure them that she hates the president just as much as they do. “You guys only want to impeach? Why, I was thinking we should lock his ass up.” Whatever.
Trump’s playing the tough-talk-aimed-at-the-base game too:
…and have no intention of doing anything other than going on a fishing expedition to see if they can find anything on me – both illegal & unprecedented in U.S. history. There was no Collusion – Investigate the Investigators! Go to work on Drug Price Reductions & Infrastructure!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2019
The impeachment chatter on both sides looks increasingly like little more than kabuki performed for the 2020 electorate. Pelosi’s happy to have Democrats threaten Trump in ever more draconian ways *if* doing so sates their appetite for formal action. Embarrassing the president by impeaching him would inflame Republican voters, she fears, but talking about sending him to prison or whatever? Eh, talk is cheap. Trump talked endlessly about locking Hillary Clinton up on the trial in 2016, didn’t he? Meanwhile, if Pelosi’s not going to hand him turnout fuel by actually impeaching him, Trump’s going to use their tough talk about prison etc. as kindling instead by feigning offense, as in the tweets above. It’s a performance on both ends.
I think. Judging by this clip, it sounds like Jay Inslee wants Trump charged with “climate treason” or something.
In lieu of an exit question, here’s Hannity very belatedly deciding that threatening to lock up one’s political opponents is actually bad.