Nancy Pelosi would like to let everyone know that she’s “done” talking about Donald Trump. Jimmy Kimmel didn’t want to talk about anything else. In a cringe-worthy 14-minute segment, in which Kimmel introduced Pelosi as a “warrior,” the late-night host repeatedly demanded that Pelosi start impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. Pelosi played along with Kimmel — to a point:
“I’m done with him, in terms of talking about him,” Pelosi told late-night host Jimmy Kimmel on his ABC show. “What we want to talk about is, let’s build the infrastructure of America and not have him stomp out of the room.” …
Quoting Mueller, who spoke at a news conference on Wednesday, Kimmel asked Pelosi if Congress had any intention of heeding the special counsel’s implication that the responsibility was now on its members to take action.
“We’ve been on that path for a while,” Pelosi said. “When we do get to where we’re going, we’re going to be ready.”
“But it feels like we’ve been on the path for a really, really long while,” Kimmel interjected, “like since the 70s.”
Pelosi proceeded to emphasize to Kimmel the importance of being “ready.” She also reiterated that impeachment would likely “divide the country” when the goal should be to “try to bring people together.”
One gets a tenor of the intellectual quality of this exchange around the six-minute mark when Kimmel states, “We haven’t had a chance to see the Mueller report.” Who hasn’t? It’s been available for well over a month now, open to anyone who wants to read it. Only about eight percent of the public release has been redacted, and almost the entirety of Mueller’s conclusions are published. Mueller himself declared the publication of his report satisfactory and complimented William Barr for making it publicly available in its current form. If Kimmel hasn’t read the Mueller report before now, that’s on him.
Pelosi played along with that point, too. She declared that she wouldn’t read the more lightly redacted report prepared for congressional leadership “until all Americans can read it,” to cheers from the audience. Bear in mind that this is the leader of the caucus currently in high dudgeon over the potential declassification of Operation Crossfire Hurricane documentation, claiming it would put intelligence sources and methods at risk. The unredacted passages in that version of the Mueller report were redacted in its public release for the same reasons, and by the same people.
Pelosi did reiterate her longstanding argument against impeachment — that it just plays into Trump’s hands:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" that Pres. Trump actually wants to be impeached because he believes the Republican-controlled Senate would bail him out. https://t.co/Vt4m3cz43M pic.twitter.com/N23xTJTe92
— ABC News (@ABC) May 31, 2019
It’s not so much that he “believes” the Senate will bail him out. Absent a smoking gun — which Mueller never provided — there’s no way the Senate would remove him. Trump might believe that a failed impeachment will create a massive revolt against Democrats in 2020. And based on Pelosi’s reluctance, she might believe the same thing.
In its way, this is just a melodrama of the tension Pelosi faces with impeachment. The people who want impeachment want it because they want it, not because a case has been made for it or because it will do any good. Pelosi has to jolly these people along, hoping that they don’t fatally undermine everything else she’s working on, and knowing that absent a smoking gun, Senate Republicans will make impeachment a futile and stupid gesture. And Mueller simply didn’t produce one, not in the public report and not in the redactions either.
Pelosi the Warrior apparently can’t tell people that it’s stupid and futile, and so we’ll get these alternately fawning and demanding displays from now until Election Day.