Impeaching President Donald Trump with little hope of acquittal was enough of a self-own, but now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has brought more needless trouble to her party.
Pelosi sparked criticism that she isn’t taking impeachment seriously after she threatened to withhold articles of impeachment from the Senate on Wednesday night, mere moments after voting to impeach Trump. The president and his Republican allies have wasted no time arguing that Pelosi is afraid to try the case — in Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) view, “scared to death.”
“Nancy Pelosi is doing this because she’s scared to death,” Sen. Lee told Sean Hannity on Thursday, according to Fox News. “This thing is a gigantic hobgoblin for her. She’s freaked out by it and she does not want to entrust us with conducting a trial.”
“Pelosi is their queen”
Pelosi set the tone for Wednesday’s impeachment vote by wearing a black dress and reminding Americans watching at home how “solemn” the event was over and over again, according to the Washington Examiner. But whatever historic magnitude the moment might have had immediately dissolved when Pelosi juked shortly after the vote.
The speaker said that she would consider delaying impeachment until the Republican-controlled Senate guarantees a fair trial, but the move invited criticism that she was playing games. Republicans accused Pelosi of getting cold feet and even took the opportunity to joke that they would welcome the opportunity to call it quits.
“Some House Democrats imply they are withholding the [impeachment] articles for some kind of leverage,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, according to Fox. “I admit, I’m not sure what leverage there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want. Alas, if they can figure that out, they can explain.”
Lee echoed that view, saying that Democrats “realize that they screwed this up.” The Republican said that Pelosi knows trying the case will backfire — but she hasn’t made things much better for her party by backpedaling either.
“It lands with a thud” in the event that Pelosi doesn’t move forward, he said. “Look, there is a land called Passivaggressivia, and Nancy Pelosi is their queen. I do not understand why she did what she did, but it makes no sense.”
Backed into a corner
Indeed, Pelosi’s delay tactic has somehow made a bad situation even worse. While Trump’s acquittal was expected anyway, she now risks diluting even the symbolic victory by making Trump look like the victim of political gamesmanship.
For his part, President Trump quipped on Twitter that Pelosi was trying to arrange a “quid pro quo” and wondered when she might be impeached over it, but he also demanded an “immediate” trial in the Senate so he can defend himself, the New York Post noted. McConnell, meanwhile, has said that he would not dismiss the charges outright, but Pelosi’s gambit has left the status of the Senate trial in limbo.
McConnell declared that the parties were at an “impasse” after a meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Thursday in which, McConnell said, Schumer had insisted on “departing from the unanimous bipartisan precedent that 100 senators approved before the beginning of President [Bill] Clinton’s trial” concerning the trial rules. He said that Schumer asked for “special pre-trial guarantee of certain witnesses whom the House Democrats, themselves, did not bother to pursue as they assembled their case,” according to the Daily Mail.
Schumer, Pelosi, and other Democrats accused McConnell of staging a rigged trial after he shot down Schumer’s witness requests and vowed “total coordination” with the White House, but Republicans have cried hypocrisy after Democrats conducted what Republicans have called a slapdash process with a pre-judged outcome.
Is there some concealed political genius here, or did Pelosi just get played by the far-left?