Friday morning Nancy Pelosi announced in a dear colleague letter that she will send articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate next week, effectively caving to recent tactics by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who threatened to nullify impeachment if Pelosi didn’t deliver the articles,
“‘The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments.’ Period. The House can begin the process, and Speaker Pelosi’s majority has certainly done that. But the Senate alone can resolve it,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “If the Speaker continues to refuse to take her own accusations to trial, the Senate will move forward next week with the business of our people,” he continued. “We will operate on the assumption that House Democrats are too embarrassed to ever move forward.” McConnell signed on to Senate Resolution 463, which would have changed the Senate rules regarding impeachment, and, with a simple majority vote, be able to dismiss impeachment entirely.
Pelosi took the bait and has now capitulated on impeachment. “Yesterday, [Mitch McConnell] showed his true colors and made his intentions to stonewall a fair trial even clearer by signing on to a resolution that would dismiss the charges.”
“I am very proud of the courage and patriotism exhibited by our House Democratic Caucus as we support and defend the Constitution,” Pelosi wrote. “I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the Floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate.”
House Democrats passed the two articles of impeachment with zero bipartisan support in December but refused to send the articles over to the Senate and officially begin the next phase, dismissing Congress for the holiday break without any action. She was never clear on when she intended to deliver them, except that it would happen once she was assured that the Senate would conduct a “fair” trial. Republicans immediately cried foul, and, over time, some Democrats have even expressed impatience with Pelosi’s stall tactic. It appears that McConnell finally forced her hand, giving her no choice but to move the process forward.
Now Democrats will face the shaky scenario of two of their frontrunners for the 2020 nomination being pulled off the campaign trail for the Senate trial, and the other frontrunner, Joe Biden could be subpoenaed as a witness. As PJM’s Mark Ellis wrote, “In this perfect storm, all the top-tier Democrats are stuck in Washington for a trial that neither the Senate or the American people want. For however brief and phantasmagorical a moment in time, Mayor Pete would be the only ‘contender’ on the trail.”
Grab the popcorn, we’re about to see exactly why Nancy Pelosi did not want to go forward with impeachment.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis