Joe Biden’s not the only Democrat with a coherence problem. Yesterday, Nancy Pelosi called a special press conference for what appeared to be a big announcement just before the fourth official DNC presidential primary debate. Many assumed that meant a dramatic change in the status quo, most likely a decision to proceed with a formal full-House authorization for an impeachment inquiry.
Instead, Pelosi announced that no changes were necessary, and it only got stranger from there:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced after meeting with the House Democratic caucus on Tuesday that there will be no vote — at least for now — on the launch of formal impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
“There’s no requirement that we have a vote, and so at this time we will not be having a vote,” Pelosi said. “We’re not here to call bluffs — we’re here to find the truth, to uphold the Constitution of the United States. This is not a game for us. This is deadly serious.”
So why hold the press conference at all? Talk about a letdown. Pelosi kept reporters tied up for hours past their deadline only to deliver a self-serving speech and tell them all that there was no news to report after all. According to some reports, Pelosi had thought that her caucus would authorize a vote and so she set up the presser, only to come up empty.
It’s true that there’s no requirement for a vote, but every precedent in House impeachments had an authorizing vote before opening an inquiry. The federal judges on whom Pelosi & Co rely to enforce subpoenas are openly questioning whether the House can claim to be pursuing an impeachment without an authorizing vote. Even the Los Angeles Times, which is busy cheerleading the impeachment, responded this morning by telling Pelosi to do it right:
President Trump can be expected to denounce the House’s impeachment inquiry as a “witch hunt” or a “coup” attempt no matter how fair and transparent the process is. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi still needs to shore up the credibility of the fast-moving investigation by having the entire House vote to authorize it and by insisting that witnesses now speaking to investigators in private testify as soon as possible in public. …
Political calculation aside, a vote on the House floor is overdue, even though — contrary to what Trump’s White House counsel has suggested — the Constitution doesn’t require it. A formal authorization vote would put the imprimatur of the full House onto the inquiry and lay out a clear path forward, blunting the Republicans’ overwrought criticisms of the process.
Overwrought? The Times’ editors concede two paragraphs later that GOP criticisms might not be as overwrought as they’d claimed earlier:
Yet the fact that witnesses have testified to the committees behind closed doors has provided Trump and his supporters with another talking point for their claim that the process is rigged. The principal argument for private proceedings is that the committees don‘t want witnesses to be able to alter their stories to conform with other witnesses’ statements — a caution also taken by previous investigations into presidents conducted by special counsels and other independent investigators. But the fact that important portions of testimony have leaked undermines that rationale.
Ya think? Also, it’s worth pointing out that the House isn’t a prosecutorial organization, but a political representative body acting in place of the people. Their processes should be open, transparent, and with full access to all of the elected officials of that body, not just the majority party. Secret meetings and ex parte processes are anathema to representative democracy.
Right now it looks as opaque and confused as, well, Nancy Pelosi’s explanation of what impeachment is about. Pelosi manages to bring up emoluments, Vladimir Putin, the 2016 election (despite Robert Mueller’s declaration of no evidence of collusion) as well as various elements of Ukraine-Gate. Pelosi leaves the impression of a Twitter dilettante who can’t keep up with the threads:
— ABC News (@ABC) October 15, 2019
In a head-turning moment, Pelosi told reporters, “All roads seem to lead to Putin with the president” — even though Democrats began their probe because of the president’s actions concerning Ukraine, not Russia.
Ukraine-Gate has very little to do with Putin, except as external pressure that would have added to the intimidation factor of a quid pro quo demand, one which Democrats still can’t substantiate. It’s a non-sequitur in this instance, and a weird one coming from the leader of the House Democratic caucus that wants to go full steam on impeachment. The clip published by ABC News is a 90-second display of the utter incoherence of impeachment, a Democratic Party project that has been searching for a rationalization since November 9, 2016.
“This is not a game for us,” Pelosi insists, while making it very clear that it is a game even while Pelosi can’t quite find her place on the board.