Earlier today, Ed Morrissey looked at the latest in the long line of excuses Speaker Nancy Pelosi has offered as to why she just can’t send those articles of impeachment over to the Senate yet. (Subscription required.) This time it has something to do with the Senate Majority Leader needing to “explain” a few things about the Senate rules for the trial or something. As Ed noted, all of these excuses are predicated on the false notion that she is somehow involved in determining how the Senate handles the proceedings. But she isn’t.
At some point, perhaps a constitutional scholar will explain to the House Speaker that she has no role in setting Senate rules, just as the Senate has no role in setting the House’s. She should be grateful for that; plenty of Senate Republicans objected to the kangaroo court Adam Schiff conducted to produce these articles of impeachment. The objections got so heated that pressure got put on Lindsey Graham to conduct a parallel set of hearings to deconstruct the Schiff Show, which he declined to do.
Yesterday, Politico looked at the same question. And while they tend to put on kid gloves and treat the Speaker a bit more gently, it was still impossible to avoid the obvious.
Pelosi’s refusal to transmit the articles across the Capitol continues a bizarre impasse between chambers: the House has impeached Trump three weeks ago but the Senate remains stuck in a holding pattern, unable to begin its trial.
McConnell’s power play was intended, in part, to pressure Pelosi to send over the articles, which she’s been holding since the House impeached Trump Dec. 18, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. But Pelosi reiterated much of what she’s said in recent weeks to her caucus Tuesday night — she needs to know more about the “arena” in the Senate before moving forward.
This entire situation has been left doing a slow simmer on the back burner for too long. The House has concluded their assigned duties in terms of their constitutional obligations for impeachment proceedings. The Speaker has been living in the swamp long enough to know what the rules say and what they don’t say. The only reason to continue this charade at this point is to keep impeachment on the front page of the Washington Post and in CNN’s chyron for as long as possible into the election season. The games need to come to an end.
What Politico and many MSM analysts likely know but are unwilling to say is that Pelosi has no real leverage, but Cocaine Mitch still has an ace up his sleeve. Think of it as a new version of the nuclear option. I discussed this on Monday, but the situation is quickly coming to a head now.
As Ed pointed out in the article linked above, McConnell has already rounded up enough votes to pass the same set of rules used for Clinton’s impeachment trial. If they were good enough for the Democrats back then they should be good enough now. And her claims that witnesses were deposed for Clinton’s trial are true, but that decision was only voted on after the Senate proceedings began. The same can happen this time.
So as far as I’m concerned, it’s time to pull the trigger. If Pelosi won’t accept a deadline, McConnel needs to take up Lindsy Graham’s proposal and bring forward a revised version of the Senate impeachment rules that allow them to begin the trial “after learning that the House has impeached.” Remove all requirements for House managers to be appointed and deliver a physical copy of the articles. But, as a courtesy, invite the Speaker to send over managers if she wishes.
At that point, any “leverage” that Nancy Pelosi thought she had will completely evaporate and she’ll be left behind to watch the conclusion of the process on CNN with the rest of her friends. And that’s precisely what McConnell should be working on immediately. Out of respect for the office of the Speaker he could give her until Friday to appoint the managers and send them over. But if she still refuses, let’s light the fuse on Monday and get this farce over with.