Ed already wrote about this WaPo story previewing Democratic defections on the big vote, but I want to make sure the bit below doesn’t go unnoticed.

It can’t be true that they’re not whipping the vote, can it? Surely there are enough Dem freshmen from swing districts worried about the politics of all this to tank impeachment if they’re given the green light to vote how they please. It’s the second-biggest floor vote of Pelosi’s career, behind only ObamaCare. She’s going to need to twist some arms.

Either this is out-and-out BS fed to the media to convince them that the caucus is rarin’ to impeach, with no pressure applied from the top, or she’s already twisted arms privately and has 218+ commitments from her caucus that they’re voting yes.

In fact, Democratic leaders have said they don’t intend to whip the impeachment vote, allowing each member to make his or her own personal choice on such a historic roll call that many see as a legacy-defining issue.

“This is one of those issues where members have to come to their own conclusions; it’s just too consequential,” said Rep. Daniel Kildee (D-Mich.), a deputy whip. “I think this is one of those votes where people are going to be remembered for a long time for how they voted on it.”

It has to be that she already has 218 votes in the bank via threats, bribery, or both. WaPo noticed one prominent example recently of a Dem freshman from a Republican district in New York getting a sweet cut of pork from the Speaker to take home to his constituents: “Rep. Anthony Brindisi, a Democratic centrist who is agonizing about how to vote, secured a major win in the defense bill that the House passed Wednesday — a provision designed to boost a local manufacturing plant in his district that Trump carried by more than 15 points.” I’m going to guess that Brindisi is a yes on impeachment.

How many no’s are we potentially talking about here, then? Jeff Van Drew, the only Democrat who’s already committed to opposing Pelosi so far, was asked that question by USA Today:

“I always say, you got to really be careful what you wish for in life,” he said. “I think (Trump) actually gets help with this, to be honest with you. He’s going to be able to go all over the country and say he is found not guilty.”

Van Drew added that some of his Democratic colleagues have reached out to him about impeachment and guessed as many as three or four in total could join him in voting against impeachment articles.

Who are the three or four? It’s highly likely that Collin Peterson will be one; he was the other Dem besides Van Drew to vote against authorizing the impeachment inquiry and he comes from an R+12 district. Unless he’s planning to retire (he’s 75 and has been in Congress for nearly 30 years), he’s a cinch to oppose. WaPo also names three freshmen with fluky wins in solid red districts last fall as worth watching: Kendra Horn of Oklahoma (R+10), Joe Cunningham of Mark Sanford’s old district in South Carolina (R+10), and Ben McAdams of Utah (R+12), who defeated Mia Love. Maybe those five are the full list. Pelosi’s not going to want to cut it very close at 218-220 since that’ll promote perceptions that she really did have to twist arms just to get across the finish line. I think a vote in the mid-220s, with only the most vulnerable Democrats freed to vote no, is the best she can do given how tepid the polling is on removing Trump.

Meanwhile, I’m intrigued by the news that some Dems are leaning on her to withhold the articles of impeachment until McConnell makes concessions on which witnesses (e.g., Mick Mulvaney) can be called. That would be an … odd demand considering Dems weren’t willing to slow down impeachment and fight in court to compel Mulvaney to testify in their own proceedings. Which makes me wonder: Is this just a delay tactic, aimed at provoking a stalemate between the House and Senate that paralyzes the process? Pelosi doesn’t care whether Trump ends up going on trial or not, after all; the outcome of the trial is foreordained. She does care about her party bleeding support in the polls as impeachment proceeds. If she can stop the bleeding by making certain witness demands of McConnell that he either can’t or won’t meet (“We want Mulvaney and Bolton and Giuliani and Perry and maybe that Lev Parnas character too”), then she can declare victory, continue to hold impeachment over Trump’s head next year during the campaign, and deny him the political triumph of being acquitted by the Senate. Blocking the trial would also leave Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren free to campaign in January, a sop to the left.

The problem is that McConnell would likely counteroffer: “Okay, we’ll attempt to call Mulvaney and the rest but in return Schumer has to agree to call Joe and Hunter Biden and the whistleblower.” What does she say then?

It seems to me like a derailed impeachment process in which the out-party impeaches the president and then a trial never happens because the two sides just can’t come to terms would be the perfect microcosm of the endless hyperpartisan clusterfark America finds itself in nowadays. The only outcome that would be truer to this moment would be if McConnell decided that Senate rules entitle his chamber not to consider the articles of impeachment at all and flushed them as soon as they were received. He’s already ruled that out, though, so a perpetual House/Senate stalemate over the rules of a trial that end up preventing the trial from happening would be the next best thing.