Nancy Pelosi must be the most frustrated politician in Washington, D.C. She is the speaker of the House of Representatives that likely has the votes to impeach the president of the United States.
But she doesn’t want the House to walk down that path. Why? Because she is taking the long view.
That brings me to the frustration she must be feeling.
Democrats control the House, but Republicans control the Senate. The House can impeach Trump with a simple majority vote. The Senate, which would put Trump on trial for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” must clear a much higher bar; it needs a two-thirds vote to convict the president on all charges. That’s 67 out of 100 senators; Republicans comprise 53 members, which means more than a dozen GOP senators need to believe that Trump is guilty of those crimes.
Frustration? Yeah! Do ya think?
Pelosi is trying to stiff-arm members of her Democratic House caucus, those who want at the very least to launch what they’re calling an “impeachment inquiry,” which is code for actually impeaching the president.
Pelosi’s frustration surely rests in the comparative rhetoric that came from Republicans in 1998 when they impeached a Democratic president, Bill Clinton. What did the president do to warrant impeachment? He lied to a grand jury about that seedy relationship he had with what’s-her-name. He, um, obstructed justice, in GOP members’ eyes.
Many of those formerly fervent pro-impeachment Republicans are in office today. They are saying that despite the mountain of evidence compiled by special counsel Robert Mueller, that Donald Trump is “exonerated” of obstruction charges. Mueller and his investigative team found at least 10 instances where the president sought to impede investigations into the Russian attack on our electoral system in 2016. Mueller, though, said he couldn’t indict the president because of a Department of Justice policy prohibiting charging a sitting president with a crime.
He left the issue of determining culpability up to Congress!
Are we clear on that? He didn’t exonerate, clear, declare the president to be innocent of anything!
Senate Republicans, though, aren’t having any of it. They’re standing behind one of their own, the man who occasionally visits the Oval Office.
I’m tellin’ ya, that is what I believe is the source of Speaker Pelosi’s supreme frustration. I also believe the speaker’s patience is wearing thin. She did say she’d prefer to see Trump “in prison” rather than merely being impeached.
I’m hoping she stands firm for as long as she can. Senate Republicans need to be made to understand what many of us believe already: that the president of the United States has committed criminal acts.