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Pelosi pushed aside by Democrats focused on impeaching Trump
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may be the only sane Democrat left in the House of Representatives. She’s been forced out of the impeachment crusade, realizing that initiating impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump without a smoking gun is liable to backfire and guarantee his next four years in office.
Furious over her reluctance and anxious to make a move against Trump, pro-impeachment Democrats voiced their intentions to continue down the impeachment path, with or without the Speaker. “Now is the time for impeachment,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) declared in an op-ed just two days after Pelosi told reporters she does not support it. Texas Rep. Al Green (D) also said he plans to keep pushing for impeachment, regardless of Pelosi’s stance.
Too big to fall
About three-quarters of Democratic voters favor impeachment, while more than a quarter of the 235 Democrats in the House have expressed support for initiating proceedings. The rest, it seems, are waiting to see what Special Counsel Robert Mueller finds from his nearly two-years-long Russia investigation.
This includes Representative John Yarmuth of Kentucky, who told CNN on March 12, “It’s not a matter of whether [Democrats decide to impeach Trump], it’s a matter of when.”
In the meantime, many Republican lawmakers are practically begging their progressive colleagues to pursue impeachment. Conservatives would rightfully view such a bold move as tantamount to a coup, galvanizing the base and ensuring high voter turnout in 2020.
Moderates, too, are likely to interpret such a political maneuver as a desperate act carried out by a fringe group of radical Democrats, turning more Americans on to Team Trump at a crucial moment. As Democrats respond to this fast-sinking ship, the party is likely to tear itself apart from within.
“It would play right into our hands,” a House Republican leadership aide told Time magazine.
The voice of reason
The voice of reason in the Democratic Party, Pelosi is prepared to play the long game. She isn’t interested unless there’s increased popular support for impeachment and at least a small modicum of Republican backing.
“The easy thing to do would be to start down the path of impeachment. That’s a trap,” explained a senior Democratic aide. “Now that we have the gavel and can expose all of this wrongdoing, I think you will start to see a shift in public opinion and movement of Republicans.”
Democrats hope to elicit that public opinion shift by using all of their time in office making the case that Trump is a Russian pawn who obstructed justice and violated campaign finance law. House Dems have loaded their “subpoena cannon” and are preparing a fusillade of Trump investigations, looking at everything from the president’s cabinet picks to his taxes for evidence of wrongdoing.
“I joked for a while — but it’s not funny anymore — I said we’re going to have to build an air traffic control tower to keep track of all the subpoenas flying from here to the White House,” said Yarmuth, who is also the chairman of the House Budget Committee. “So yeah, it could be brutal.”
Due process and double jeopardy
Normally, due process suggests that there should be evidence of a crime before sweeping, unlimited investigations are started. But more importantly, Democrats will have to explain why they reached a different conclusion than those ascertained in months-long investigations in the Republican-led House, the Senate, and the special counsel — which has so far failed to find any meaningful evidence of collusion.
Democrats would be wise to look to the most recent example of an impeachment gone wrong. When the GOP failed to convince a Democrat-controlled Senate to move forward with articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, they had actual evidence of a crime but only succeeded in boosting his popularity.
Still, pro-impeachment Democrats are hopeful that events will suddenly turn in their favor. “Someday, all of a sudden, it’s going to be like the Berlin Wall coming down,” George Conway, the outspoken Trump critic who is married to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. “You never know what straw is going to break the camel’s back. But I firmly believe this is going to happen.”
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