House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just scored a big win. After she delayed the impeachment process for weeks, some Democrats had begun to join Republicans in questioning her impeachment strategy. But apparently, Pelosi’s still the one in charge.
Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) signaled impatience with Pelosi this week but backpedaled just a day later, saying “it’s her [Pelosi’s] decision” on when the articles of impeachment should be released to the Senate.
On Friday, Pelosi finally announced that negotiations over the trial could start next week.
Dems confused by Pelosi strategy
For three weeks, Pelosi refused to send articles of impeachment forward to the Senate until McConnell promised a “fair” process, throwing expectations of a predictable impeachment calendar into disarray. But Pelosi’s delay tactic failed to get her any leverage after McConnell announced this week that he had enough votes to make Democrats, who have insisted on having additional witnesses, pound sand.
As the impasse started to break, Feinstein joined a group of Senate Democrats including Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), among others, who said it was time to move on. A common refrain: they respected Pelosi’s attempt to extract “fairness” from the Machiavellian McConnell, but she simply had no leverage.
“If we’re going to do it, she should send them over,” Feinstein said Wednesday. “I don’t see what good delay does.”
But confusion set in when the Speaker continued to send mixed signals, saying Thursday she would send the articles forward “soon” but insisted she would do so “when she’s ready.” Apparently cowed, Feinstein joined other Democrats who walked back their previous statements, saying she was “misunderstood” and saying that it was Pelosi’s decision to make.
Feinstein’s flip-flop was overshadowed by that of Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), who was mocked for switching his position within mere hours. The Democrat initially said it was time to move forward, but later backtracked, saying, “If the Speaker believes that holding on to the articles for a longer time will help force a fair trial in the Senate, then I wholeheartedly support that decision.”
Oops! This morning senior House Dem Adam Smith broke ranks with Pelosi, said time to send impeachment articles to Senate. Now: Total reversal, full humiliating climbdown. https://t.co/bKQmWhNPJn
— Byron York (@ByronYork) January 9, 2020
Fast trial planned
Democrats had sought testimony from witnesses like former National Security Adviser John Bolton and additional documents and hoped to bolster their case for more evidence with emails released during the stand-off which they said raised new questions about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, as well as Bolton’s sudden willingness to testify in the Senate.
However, Republicans have gradually lined up behind McConnell’s plans for a fast trial with no witnesses, at least not called upfront.
President Trump, who had long said he wanted a chance to cross-examine Joe and Hunter Biden, said Thursday that he would invoke executive privilege to block testimony from Bolton and reiterated his desire to have the Bidens testify, the Hill reported. He also had some choice words for the Speaker on Friday.
“She should have sent them a long time ago. It just belittles the process,” Trump said. “Nancy Pelosi will go down as the least successful speaker of the House in the history of our nation.”