Last Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally caved after weeks of an impeachment stand-off with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The timing suggested articles of impeachment — passed on December 18 — might formally arrive in the Senate by Monday or Tuesday of this week, sparking a trial that would tie up at least three Democratic candidates for president and perhaps prevent the debate scheduled for Tuesday, January 14. Yet Pelosi has delayed yet again.
In a closed-door meeting on Tuesday morning, Pelosi announced a schedule to vote on impeachment managers Wednesday, giving Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) a brief reprieve before a Senate trial that will keep them from campaigning on the ground in the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses.
“The House will likely vote on Wednesday to appoint Democratic lawmakers to serve as impeachment managers in a Senate trial weighing charges against President Trump,” The Washington Examiner‘s Susan Ferrechio reported. “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, announced the schedule in a closed-door meeting Tuesday in the Capitol basement.”
Senate Republican leaders predicted a trial beginning next week. House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) told the Examiner that Democrats will name the impeachment managers, who will then walk the articles over to the Senate.
Pelosi’s stall tactic has caused no little head-scratching among the chattering classes. She and her fellow Democrats characterized Trump as an imminent threat to the 2020 election, rushing impeachment as fast as possible. Indeed, when the White House raised a routine executive privilege defense to some congressional subpoenas, House Democrats decided not to wait and challenge the matter in court but rather to add another article of impeachment for “obstruction of Congress.” Yet after this rush, Pelosi inexplicably held back the articles from the Senate.
McConnell had condemned the impeachment, claiming that it was driven by partisan rage.
“House Democrats want to create new rules for this president because they feel uniquely enraged,” he argued. “This is by far the thinnest basis for any House-passed presidential impeachment in American history.” He condemned it as “the most rushed, least thorough, and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history.”
McConnell urged the Senate to reject the articles of impeachment in order to “serve the stabilizing, institution-preserving, fever-breaking role for which the United States Senate was created.” Indeed, the Founders conceived of the Senate as a check on the passions of the people as expressed by the House of Representatives. The Republican leader argued that the Senate was created for just such a time as this.
When McConnell announced that he would be coordinating with the White House counsel on impeachment, aghast media and Democrats wrung their hands complaining about unfairness — despite the fact that Senate Democrats coordinated with the Bill Clinton White House during Clinton’s impeachment.
McConnell repeatedly called the House speaker’s bluff, and Pelosi finally caved last Friday after Republicans introduced a measure enabling the Senate to nullify an impeachment passed by the House if the speaker did not forward the articles to the upper chamber. Indeed, this measure makes a great deal of sense, since Pelosi had effectively pocket-vetoed her own impeachment.
It seems all this wrangling may have been a political ploy. Pelosi may have delayed the impeachment in order to grant 2020 Democrats one last chance to debate and some more time to campaign before the Iowa caucuses — and to grant America a Christmas reprieve from impeachment. Yet in doing so, she undermined her own party’s claims about the need to impeach and remove Trump immediately.
Meanwhile, Pelosi wasted no time in launching a virtue-signaling War Powers Resolution against Trump’s decisive action to take out Iran’s terror General Qasem Soleimani. If she can prioritize this toothless resolution, why couldn’t she send the articles over to the Senate more promptly after the impeachment vote?
This official vote on managers seems yet another stall tactic. The articles of impeachment have already been passed, and there is reason to believe that they are already under the purview of the Senate because they have been passed. Pelosi’s political game has backfired. Her delay may have bought Klobuchar, Warren, and Sanders a debate, but impeachment will still tie them up in the weeks before the Iowa caucuses.
Fair warning: Iowans can expect many visits from campaign surrogates like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Grow Yucca in NYC).
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.