It’s only a matter of time before Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) impeachment fake-out fails, Mike Pence’s chief of staff said Sunday.
“She will yield,” Marc Short told Fox’s Chris Wallace of the House speaker’s threat to withhold articles of impeachment from the Senate, according to the Washington Examiner. “We’re quite confident this position is untenable, and she’s going to move it along.”
Democrats voted to impeach Donald Trump on Wednesday for “abuse of power” and obstructing Congress, but Pelosi immediately left impeachment in the lurch by declining to send the articles to the Senate.
The House speaker has said that she is waiting for the Senate to set terms for a trial that she deems fair, but Republicans charge that she is trying — unsuccessfully — to gain some last-minute leverage, with President Trump’s acquittal in the Senate a virtual certainty.
Pence aide calls Pelosi’s bluff
For their part, Republicans have projected a confident front, making clear that Pelosi’s sudden appeals for “fairness” won’t win her any leverage. Echoing Republican lawmakers, Short told Wallace on Sunday that Pelosi is merely trying to postpone the inevitable and predicted that Democrats would blink first in the partisan impasse.
“The reality is that she said in the House that this president poses such a grave danger to the globe that we have to trample on his constitutional rights,” Short said, according to Fox News. “We’re going to trample those rights to rush this through, and now we’re going to hold it up to demand a longer process in the Senate with more witnesses.”
Pelosi’s gambit has led to a fresh partisan tug of war: while Democrats have accused Republican senators of seeking a rigged trial to acquit Trump, Republicans have fired back that Democrats have little reason to complain after denying Trump fairness throughout the whole process. The GOP has also wasted no time contrasting the urgency with which Pelosi sought Trump’s impeachment with her sudden caution, saying it proves that Democrats are full of bad faith and lack confidence in their case.
“If her case is so airtight that she said, that she had to ram it through and it’s undeniable, why does she need more witnesses to make her case?” Short wondered.
Impeachment in limbo
Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY) has himself demanded more witnesses be heard in the Senate’s trial, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has shot him down, insisting that Democrats should have called those witnesses in the House. Moreover, while Democrats invite accusations of playing childish games, their own star witness, professor Noah Feldman, has argued that impeachment isn’t even valid until Democrats send the articles to the Senate, The New York Times notes.
Still, Pelosi doubled down Monday after the president complained that she is “crying for fairness in the Senate” just weeks after giving him “the most unfair trial in the history of the U.S. Congress;” the House speaker stuck to the tack that Trump had blocked the House’s impeachment inquiry and placed the burden on McConnell to establish fairness before she proceeds, according to The Hill.
For his part, McConnell has shown little appetite for a lengthy trial, and his promises of “total coordination” with the White House have rattled Democrats. But the Republican leader told Fox on Monday that he would not rule out having witnesses testify, even as he made clear that Republicans would welcome the opportunity to call the whole thing off.
“She’s apparently trying to tell us how to run the trial,” McConnell said of Pelosi, according to The Hill. “You know, I’m not anxious to have this trial. So if she wants to hold onto the papers, go right ahead.”