The Ever Changing Story

She is at it again. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House who famously said we have to pass this bill to see what’s in it, has issued a conditional “never mind” in the matter of the Trump impeachment. Consider her remarks in March of this year and the subsequent path of events.

“I haven’t said this to any press person before. But since you asked, and I’ve been thinking about this, impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.” 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

So said Nancy Pelosi in the Washington Post Magazine, March 6, 2011, as reported in the March 11, 2019 Washington Post. 

By September 24, 2019 Speaker Pelosi had changed her tune and authorized the beginning of “an impeachment inquiry” after consulting with her caucus, but without seeking a vote in the House. She assigned 6 different House Committees jurisdiction over various aspects of the inquiry.  Stating that she had “no choice” but to act, Mrs. Pelosi voiced “regret”. 

In the beginning, the inquiry was conducted not by the Judiciary Committee which had jurisdiction in prior impeachments, but by the House Intelligence committee. That arrangement allowed the inquiry to be conducted behind closed doors allowing Committee Chairman Adam Schiff to selectively leak documents and broadly hint that there was much more that he was not at liberty to reveal. 

After considerable pressure, Speaker Pelosi eventually relented and sought a floor vote authorizing an impeachment investigation. On October 31, 2019 the House voted 232-196  in favor along partisan lines. So much for the need of bipartisanship. 

Impeachment Was Always Inevitable

When Speaker Pelosi expressed regret at having “no choice” but to go forward with impeachment she did so with crocodile tears. Once they had the power, the Democrats were always going to impeach Trump. The effort began in December of 2016 before Trump had even taken the oath of office. That December, Democratic senators introduced a bill that would require the president of the United States to divest any assets that could raise a conflict of interest. The bill noted that failure to divest such assets would constitute high crimes and misdemeanors under the impeachment clause of the U.S. Constitution. The senators who introduced the bill were: Elizabeth Warren, Dick Durbin, Chris Coons, Ben Cardin and Jeff Merkly. All Democrats, they were obviously laying the groundwork for down the road if and when the opportunity presented itself.

Sure enough, by December 6 of 2017, a motion to impeach Trump was introduced that accused him, among other things, of obstruction, and associating the White House with Neo Nazism and Hatred. Democrat Al Green who introduced the motion also noted that Trump had criticized NFL players who knelt in protest during the national anthem. In the event  the resolution failed as only 58 Democrats voted for it. 

Green’s second attempt came about a month later, instigated this time by Trump’s demeaning and typically idiotic remarks about African countries. That one failed as well, but it picked up some more votes, this time garnering 66 Democratic Congressman in favor. 

The third try was even better. Ninety-five (95) Democratic Congressmen voted voted for it. This time the motion accused Trump of bringing “ridicule, disgrace and disrepute” to the office. This time though was different. The Democrats had just recently captured the House. The 95 who voted “aye” were 40% of the Democratic caucus, including the Squad, and most infamously Rashida Tlaib, who had announced “We’re going to impeach the M***F***” within hours of her swearing-in.

Democrats, now in the majority, began their next attempt to impeach Trump, this time with the backing of the Speaker. With a huge assist from Trump (naturally enough), the 4th time was luck. The vote was 232 voting “Aye” versus 196 voting “Nay”. Only 2 Democrats voted against; No current Republicans voted Yes. A former Republican, Justin Amash, who is now an independent, voted Yes. 

Once they gained the majority, leaning on the slimmest of reeds, the Democrats quickly voted two articles of impeachment. After insisting that an impeachment was such a momentous event that the case had to be bipartisan, overwhelming and compelling, Speaker Pelosi abandoned her prior position and scrambled get to the head of the parade. 

Occam’s Razor

The obvious question is: Why? Employing Occam’s Razor produces a straightforward answer.  Pelosi was about to lose control of her caucus, which now largely reflects the world view of “The Squad”. Rather than let her power slip away she decided to go the impeachment route. 

During the impeachment inquiry / hearings Speaker Pelosi insisted that impeachment inquiry proceed post haste. Which it did, in deference to the “moderate” members of the caucus who did not want to defend their seats after a long drawn out affair. So less than 3 months after the inquiry began, the full House voted 2 articles of impeachment. 

But after the vote, Speaker Pelosi seems to have had another one of those frequent changes of heart to which she is so prone. She announced that she would not yet name impeachment managers for a Senate trial. Nor would she send the just passed articles of impeachment to the Senate so that a trial could begin. It seems that she now agrees with Senator Schumer that, before that can happen, it has suddenly become imperative for the Senate to subpoena specific witnesses that she herself refused to subpoena when she had the power to do so during the House inquiry. 

So at this point, here is where we stand.

  • The Speaker of the House says that impeachment has to be bipartisan. It isn’t. The articles of impeachment passed on a party line vote.
  • The Speaker said that the impeachment case must be compelling and overwhelming. It isn’t compelling and if anything it is underwhelming. 
  • The Speaker says that in the impeachment matter she acted reluctantly. Really? There were already 3 prior attempts, the first one coming before the end of the first year of Trump’s term of office. She acted as soon as she had the votes.
  • The Speaker now insists that she wants to see a “fair trial”; that Senate Majority Leader McConnell has gone “rogue” and that he is not impartial. (Of course he isn’t; neither is she). But she seems not the least bit concerned that 5 Democratic Senators seeking the Party’s nomination have already indicated that they are going to vote to remove Trump. 
  • The Speaker had insisted that time was of the essence in seeking an impeachment vote. Now she is deliberately delaying the process so that the Senate can subpoena witnesses whom she refused to subpoena when she had the power. All to speed up the process that now has to be slowed down.

What is Going on Here?

The con here is on the moderate Democratic Congressman who are about to be sacrificed in the 2020 elections. We have seen this movie before. The moderates were sacrificed for the sake of the Obamacare vote in November of 2009; prior to that the moderates served as sacrificial lambs for the gun control vote in 1994 when Clinton was President. In each case they were wiped out in the following Congressional elections, and the progressive wing kept its grip on the party machinery. 

So the prudential question currently facing Democrats is really not primarily about impeachment and removal. That effort is doomed to failure. The real question has to do with the nature of power within the Democratic Party. Will the Party, egged on by its activists, the #Resistance, its Twitter Mob and most of all its long time office holders, virtually all of whom come from safe districts, maintain their grip on power in the Party by once again leading moderates to electoral slaughter? 

They certainly seem intent on doing so.

JFB

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Joe Benning