Sweet fancy Moses. Commissars under Stalin weren’t as quick to erase criticism of the Leader as Adam Smith was here.

Smith isn’t any ol’ congressman, he’s the chairman of Armed Services Committee. He’s been a member of Pelosi’s caucus for more than 20 years. It’s unfathomable that he’d go on national television and casually undermine her position on whether to hold the articles of impeachment.

He must have been under the impression — like a lot of other people in Congress right now, apparently — that Pelosi really is on the verge of finally ending this charade and starting the trial, in which case it was no big deal for him to endorse doing so.

Surprise: It was a big deal. Within three hours after he made those comments on CNN, the principal had sent him to detention.

I don’t know why she’d continue to delay when even Senate Democrats are admitting that she’s beat. It’s a matter of pure face-saving at this point, I imagine, not wanting to capitulate at a moment when her own side is shouting at her, “YOU LOST.” The AP asked her this morning when she’s planning to finally hand this off to the Senate and she offered an uncharacteristically Trumpy answer:

“Same thing I’ve said before,” Pelosi told The Associated Press as she entered the Capitol. “We’d like to see how we’re going to proceed, and then we’ll know who to send [as impeachment managers]. I have an obligation to my members, especially those on the committees, to do justice to their work.”

Asked later as she headed for a morning meeting if she had any concerns about losing support from Democrats for her strategy, she said: “No.”

Pelosi told reporters, “I know exactly when” she plans to send the impeachment articles over, but, “I won’t be telling you right now.″

A secret plan, huh? Well, in fairness to her, she’s always been a crafty strategist.

Although maybe not as crafty as she’s cracked up to be:

John Dean? And on what planet would it be a good outcome for Democrats if all of their vulnerable incumbents had to take a toxic vote in the House but the GOP’s vulnerable incumbents in the Senate never had to?

Said Twitter pal Peter Cook of the Dean tidbit, “Between this and Donald Trump’s love of Fox News talking heads, it’s time to ask an important question: is American politics just a proxy war between Fox News and CNN?” You shouldn’t make fun, Pete. One of those Fox talking heads might have spared us from nuclear-carpet-bombing Iran.

Pelosi admitted in her presser this morning that she’ll be sending the articles over “soon.” Lindsey Graham predicted yesterday that the Senate would take the trial up next week, which seems realistic. Best guess: Pelosi will transmit the articles on Wednesday morning, following Tuesday night’s Democratic 2020 primary debate in Iowa. If she sends them over before then, Senate rules might require Bernie, Warren, and Klobuchar to stay put in Washington. Then, if Sanders and Warren end up underperforming in the early states, the left will blame Pelosi for having sabotaged their chances by pulling a move with the impeachment timing which she knew would force them to miss the debate.

One more curveball:

They’re going to resume hearing witnesses in the House *after* the Senate trial has started? What?

All I can think is that they’re timing that to capitalize on Bolton’s own statement earlier this week. Bolton implied that he had to make up his own mind about whether to testify before the Senate because the trial will necessarily be over quickly, within a matter of weeks; the same wasn’t true with the House impeachment inquiry, which could have gone on indefinitely. In that case, he preferred to have a court decide whether he needed to testify or not. By waiting for the Senate trial to begin before calling Bolton, Dems could be trying to leverage the Senate’s time horizon for their own ends. Impeachment will be over soon, they’ll tell Bolton. We need to hear from you ASAP, without court intervention. What will he say?