House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) still hasn’t decided whether to follow through with the impeachment of President Donald Trump, a revelation that is undoubtedly being viewed by the White House as an encouraging sign.
Although she has said that Trump is not “above the law” again and again, Pelosi will wait for Jerry Nadler (D-NY) to conclude hearings before she makes up her mind, according to the Washington Examiner. Pelosi’s ambivalence comes as the impeachment push is faltering, with Democrats failing to garner bipartisan support.
“No, we haven’t made it,” Pelosi told CNN when asked whether Democrats have made a final decision.
For months, Pelosi told restive members of her caucus who demanded impeachment that they should marshal bipartisan support before taking that “divisive” path. That all changed in September, when a “whistleblower” complaint spurred her to make a sudden and fateful about-face.
After weeks of investigations and dramatic public hearings, Pelosi’s concerns have materialized: the Democrats have failed to sway public opinion in their favor, with support for Trump’s impeachment peaking at around 50%. Critics are now saying that Pelosi’s impeachment play backfired, with some speculating whether she might censure Trump instead.
Apparently, Pelosi is waiting for Nadler’s hearings to conclude before she makes a decision. Nadler took over the process this week from House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff (D-CA), who passed along a 300-page report on Trump’s alleged wrongdoing in a party-line vote, according to Fox News.
That Pelosi is still refusing to publicly commit to impeachment after the events of the past two months, though, is a testament to the difficulties now facing her party. There is a sense that things can only get worse for Democrats the longer the process drags on — and Nadler’s first hearing Wednesday didn’t provide many reasons to believe that Democrats will turn the corner.
Ostensibly about the constitutional grounds for impeachment, the hearing devolved into an unhinged partisan airing of grievances from liberal university professors. While it’s still too early to tell how it will impact public opinion, it would be a surprise if it made the Democrats appear more sympathetic to voters on the fence.
Running out of options
While claiming to pursue impeachment with “prayerful” reluctance and pure, constitutional motives, Pelosi’s continued equivocation calls her intentions into doubt. After all, if it’s so clear that Trump is a criminal, and if impeachment is about public duty, not what is politically convenient, then there should be little need for further reflection.
But cognitive dissonance has never been a problem for the shrewd D.C. veteran, who has continually danced around the question of Trump’s impeachment, sensitive to the political risks involved — although at this point, it might be too late to change course. Having lit the fuse, Pelosi is marshalling her caucus behind closed doors, according to Politico.
“Are you ready?” Pelosi reportedly asked her colleagues Wednesday, telling them to read Schiff’s 300-page report. Still, in another sign of reluctance, Pelosi is refusing to put impeachment on a set timeline.
Pelosi may feel that she now has a responsibility to deliver impeachment to Democratic voters, regardless of the odds of success. But for her to hedge this late in the game can only be a good sign for Trump.