This afternoon was the deadline Nadler gave them to say whether Trump or any of his lawyers would attend future impeachment hearings before the Judiciary Committee. Want to cross-examine witnesses? Want to have your say before the cameras? Now’s your chance. Can’t whine for months about not being given a role in the House process and then turn it down when that role is finally offered, can you?
You can. Today’s letter to Nadler from White House counsel Pat Cipollone is much shorter than the letter Cipollone sent to Pelosi at the start of impeachment inquiry, but it’s identical in spirit. The process is illegitimate therefore they won’t participate — I think. Cipollone never explicitly says they won’t attend any hearings, but since the letter operates as a rhetorical middle finger, it’s safe to assume.
There’s strategy here too: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That was my point in the Judge Napolitano post last night. Given how well (or not terrible) the impeachment process has gone so far for Trump and Republicans, why would they want to start tinkering with it? Just continue to stay away and let Democrats punch themselves out. They’re not doing any damage. Having the president send lawyers to grill witnesses might only have the effect of attracting more TV viewers, which could backfire if a particular hearing goes well for Dems. The GOP’s approach at this point should be to let the House proceedings peter out and then concentrate on producing a very boring trial in the Senate. I suspect that’s Cipollone’s plan.
Nadler’s response was predictable:
Having declined this opportunity, the President cannot claim that the process is unfair. The President’s failure will not prevent us from carrying out our solemn constitutional duty.
Read my full statement: pic.twitter.com/Ld3lqhZNry
— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) December 6, 2019
According to a new YouGov poll, net support for removing the president from office is down to two points among registered voters. Among likely voters, it’s doubtless less than that. Among likely voters in battleground states, the numbers are surely even worse for Dems. In fact, nearly as many registered voters in the poll said that Trump’s conduct towards Ukraine was no different from how presidents normally conduct foreign policy as voters who said otherwise. Hoo boy.
No wonder Pelosi’s looking to pivot to other subjects before the House adjourns for Christmas:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her deputies are scrambling to nail down a shutdown-averting spending bill, a caucus-unifying prescription drug bill and a continent-spanning trade deal — all before Christmas. And that doesn’t include the widely anticipated vote to impeach President Donald Trump, potentially even in the same week…
Pelosi has privately signaled to her leadership team and vulnerable Democrats that she doesn’t want impeachment to be the last vote the House takes before leaving for the two-week holiday recess, according to multiple lawmakers and aides…
“The only thing I want to see a timeline on is HR 3 and an infrastructure bill. I don’t give a shit about timelines for anything else besides those things,” a defiant Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.) said this week, referring to the drug pricing bill, when asked about a possible impeachment vote.
That’s Pelosi’s and her caucus’s biggest worry about impeachment, I think. They’re not so worried about the vote itself. Although they’ve failed to build any sort of bipartisan support for removing Trump, that was a perfectly foreseeable outcome in an era of hyperpartisanship. Fifty percent of the country will oppose impeachment — but 50 percent will support it, and we’re far enough out from next fall’s vote that it probably won’t factor into most voters’ calculations. The real worry for Dems is that swing voters who took a chance on electing a Democratic House last fall will conclude that this is all Pelosi and the rest of them really care about. They hate Trump, they wanted to embarrass Trump, and that’s all they’re good for. The Do-Nothing Democrats! Better to have Republicans in charge of government since at least then they can pass stuff! Dems’ top priority now is to head off that criticism by passing a boatload of big-ticket items that they can talk about back home over the holidays. “We did something on prescription drugs! And the USMCA! And we funded the government!”
[whispering] “…and we also did that one other thing that you may have heard about, but that’s over now on our end so let’s move on and talk about other stuff, okay? Like PRESCRIPTION DRUGS!”
They want to make the case next fall that Trump and McConnell are the real paralyzing forces in D.C., not the new House majority. Sending the caucus home in a few weeks with some new material for their resumes makes that pitch easier.
In lieu of an exit question, here’s a potential star witness for the GOP during the Senate trial fielding a new question about his least favorite subject. Considering that he didn’t address the interviewer as “Fat,” I’d say this exchange went relatively well.
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) December 6, 2019