In a brief and occasionally bizarre statement to the press, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced what was patently obvious from her alea iacta est declaration two months ago. “The facts are uncontested,” Pelosi intoned, even though there has been no direct evidence or testimony on the “facts” alleged by this impeachment inquiry. “The president leaves us no choice but to act,” Pelosi continued, as she accused Trump of “again” trying to corrupt elections, this time in 2020. Therefore, “so help us God,” the House will proceed with articles of impeachment:
At times, Pelosi’s statement sounded as if it came from an alternate universe. “The facts are uncontested”? The problem with the impeachment case being pursued by Pelosi and Adam Schiff is that it has almost no facts at all presented by direct evidence and direct testimony, and the few they do have are vague and ambiguous. Those have been vigorously contested all along, including at yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, in which Jonathan Turley dismantled Schiff’s entire “bribery” theory and warned that the House was abusing its power rather than Donald Trump.
That wasn’t the most laughable part of Pelosi’s speech, however, nor was it her full minute of Con Law analysis at the beginning of the statement. Instead, the laugh lines came when Pelosi declared that the process has shown that Democrats have “hearts full of love” and have taken a “somber approach” to impeachment. Say what? House Democrats have spent almost three years demanding impeachment over an ever-shifting series of rationalizations and claims, with her hand-picked impeachment manager repeatedly grandstanding for the cameras and claiming to have proof of wrongdoing that Schiff has never produced, even years later.
As Turley said yesterday, this is all about anger, not “hearts of love,” and about as somber as a pitchfork-and-torch mob.
At any rate, Pelosi has little choice but to allow a vote on articles of impeachment. The die was very much cast when she bought into the idea that Schiff’s whistleblower had a prima facie case, only to learn later that it didn’t even come close. To back down now would mean getting burned at the stake by progressive activists. The best path for Pelosi — or perhaps the least bad path — is to get this over with quickly and hope voters forget about it in November.
That sounds good to Trump, too, who pre-empted Pelosi’s speech with this briar-patch plea:
…..trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business. We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify, and will reveal, for the first time, how corrupt our system really is. I was elected to “Clean the Swamp,” and that’s what I am doing!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 5, 2019
This is also nothing new from Trump, who has been egging Pelosi on for a while. Impeachment isn’t a good look, but it does finally get Republicans into a place where they can control the narrative and make Democrats pay a steep political price for it, a situation which a censure would not have produced. Short of dropping the matter entirely, this is the least-bad option for Trump too.
However, one has to wonder whether Pelosi will get the votes for impeachment in the end. First-term Democrats in Trump-leaning districts and swing states have to know that voters will punish them for this, especially when it goes nowhere in the Senate. Do they fear progressive activists in DC and Nancy Pelosi more than their own constituents? That’s the question that will be on their minds when this vote arises.