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Politics

Pelosi's Gambit on Impeachment Vote

Democrat strategy is to keep Trump on the ropes and take back the Senate.

Nate Jackson · Oct. 29, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Monday that the House will finally hold a vote on Thursday to make official their impeachment inquiry. She wrote, “This resolution establishes the procedure for hearings that are open to the American people, authorizes the disclosure of deposition transcripts, outlines procedures to transfer evidence to the Judiciary Committee as it considers potential articles of impeachment, and sets forth due process rights for the President and his Counsel.” That’s an implicit admission that Republican complaints were right, but what’s really going on?

Most immediately, Pelosi and her fellow Democrats had a very bad weekend, and she desperately wanted to redirect the Leftmedia’s attention to help her party. Between President Donald Trump overseeing the U.S. military’s mission to send Islamic State terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to meet his Maker and Democrat Rep. Katie Hill’s disgraceful exit from Congress, Democrats needed a “reset” button.

(On the latter, make no mistake: Pelosi shoved Hill under the bus when Hill’s sordid #MeToo affairs with subordinates became undeniable. And like any good feminist, Hill blames everyone but herself.)

From a bigger perspective, Pelosi has been working a long-game impeachment strategy ever since retaking the House in November 2018. It has two prongs: One, ensure that what she hopes are Trump’s last two years in office are shrouded under the cloud of impeachment. Two, put Republican senators up for reelection in 2020 on the hot seat in hopes of Democrats retaking the upper chamber.

We’ve covered that first prong ad nauseam. Impeachment is Democrats’ coup d'état 2.0 after the utter failure of Robert Mueller’s investigation. Trump warned in his State of the Union about “ridiculous partisan investigations.” But that’s all Democrats have to offer — in this case a ridiculous partisan impeachment over the fact that Trump (foolishly) mentioned Joe Biden in a phone call with a foreign leader. Closed-door testimony from various White House officials seemingly has given Democrats a toehold on this point. Ukrainian-born Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, a national security adviser who listened to the call, is testifying as we go to press … and not in Trump’s favor.

The second prong is more interesting. If Democrats really had a case for impeachment, they’d let the process play out in the open. Instead, they’ve carefully controlled the media narrative by cloaking it in secrecy, only now rushing to finish up before the end of 2019. Why? So they can force the Senate to vote on removing the president and thus hang that vote around the necks of Senate Republicans up for reelection in 2020. We’re still more than a year from Election Day, but flipping the Senate seems unlikely at this juncture, even though Republicans are defending 23 seats to Democrats’ 12. Dems need to move the needle.

The official text of the impeachment resolution hasn’t been released, but it will bear watching whether it comports with precedents set under Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Pelosi doesn’t instill us with confidence. She argues that a vote will happen not because it’s necessary but because of Republican complaints about an unfair process and because of Trump’s “obstruction.”

As for Republicans and the president, the best argument now is to insist that Trump’s language in his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was not an improper, corrupt, or politically motivated quid pro quo — i.e., an impeachable offense — but rather the norm for American foreign aid and policy.

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