Not even CNN’s Jake Tapper believes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is winning the impeachment fight.
Tapper said that it doesn’t seem Pelosi’s delay “gambit” is working after Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced Tuesday that he has assembled the votes to start a Senate trial on his terms, the Washington Examiner reported. Pelosi has sought to hold onto leverage in negotiations over the terms of the Senate trial by refusing to pass impeachment articles against President Donald Trump forward, but momentum in her favor seems to be fading.
“With all due respect, this leverage gambit does not seem to have worked,” Tapper told Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) on Tuesday.
Tapper: Pelosi’s “gambit” isn’t working
Pelosi immediately invited accusations that she was playing games when she decided to withhold the articles after House Dems passed them last year, as critics warned that she would undermine the serious impression her party sought to cultivate with the “solemn” impeachment process. Republicans, for their part, have eagerly contrasted Pelosi’s previous urgency with her sudden caution to call her sincerity into question.
Weeks of partisan bickering have failed to break a stalemate, and a Senate trial that was expected to start in January remains on hold indefinitely. McConnell has refused to budge to Democrats’ demands for “fairness” by hearing additional witnesses, and Pelosi, Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have settled on a clear messaging strategy accusing the president of a “cover-up,” according to RealClearPolitics. (Russiagate, anyone?)
While some moderate Republicans have questioned McConnell’s plan for a fast trial, the Senate majority leader announced Tuesday that he had the votes to begin a trial without any previous agreement on witnesses — dealing a blow to Schumer, who is negotiating unsuccessfully for McConnell to expand the trial, according to Fox News. That means that Pelosi’s delay game is starting to falter, Tapper warned.
“Well, he should still just do the right thing,” Swalwell replied. “You know, having the votes is one thing, but if you have a key witness that the House was not able to obtain who is now saying he is willing to come forward, the right thing seems to be, well, let’s hear from this witness.”
Bolton hiccup offers little help to Dems
Swalwell was referring to Trump’s former National Security adviser, who announced this week that he would testify if called by the Senate. John Bolton had previously ignored a request from the House Intelligence Committee to testify, and the committee’s chairman, Adam Schiff, has not ruled out subpoenaing him, according to RealClearPolitics.
Democrats did not waste time using Bolton’s announcement to press for his testimony and that of other witnesses who they insist may have crucial information about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. But there is little doubt that the Democrats’ position has weakened significantly, as Swalwell made clear in his plea for Republicans to “do the right thing” by acceding to Pelosi’s demands.
“I guess I wonder just like what world do you guys live in, if you think that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is going to get his robe dirty with the political tenor of this, or Mitch McConnell is gonna feel in any way pressured to do the trial the way House Democrats want to do it, when this is a guy that wouldn’t even have a hearing for Merrick Garland,” Tapper said, referring to McConnell’s infamous role in shooting down Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
Republicans barrel forward
From the beginning, Pelosi’s delay has been seen as a gamble that risks making President Trump, and his claims of a “witch hunt” against him, more sympathetic to independents. It has always been understood that Pelosi is trying to put off the inevitable, so to speak, but after nearly a month of stalemate, the impasse may finally be breaking — and not in her favor.
Republicans have been clear that they have no desire to drag out what they consider an illegitimate and partisan impeachment any longer than necessary, and even President Trump — who long demanded a chance to publicly expose Joe Biden and his son Hunter over their dealings in Ukraine — is reportedly on board with McConnell’s no-witness strategy, the Washington Examiner reported. Meanwhile, some lawmakers, like Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), have called to dismiss the charges outright.
Threats like Hawley’s have led Democrats to insist that Republicans plan to stage a rigged trial to acquit Trump with as little ceremony as possible — but Republicans maintain that they have no obligation to take impeachment seriously, particularly as Democrats in the House continue to investigate the president and float additional articles of impeachment.
At the end of the day, it’s clear the delay game is failing. It’s time for Republicans to end this tedious drama.