NY Times Columnist Says Delaying Impeachment Makes It Look ‘More Political,’ Says House Doesn’t Have Leverage

December 22, 2019 Updated: December 22, 2019

A New York Times columnist said the House’s move to delay sending articles of impeachment to the Senate makes the impeachment process appear “more political” and noted that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) doesn’t have much control over what the Senate might do.

David Brooks told PBS, “I think it’s very risky. As [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell said, why is withholding something I don’t want to do, why is that leverage? And so, it was always going to be a reality that, once the House voted to impeach, they were going to lose control of the process. And they have essentially lost control of the process.”

He added that the move to delay the articles is not a “very powerful message.”

“I think it delays what eventually will be a trial, pushing it, frankly, back into primary season. And it looks—makes it look a little more political,” Brooks concluded.

Over the weekend, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), suggested that an indefinite hold might be placed on the articles.

When he was asked during an appearance on Fox News’ “Cavuto Live” on Dec. 21 about why Pelosi hasn’t sent over the articles, Clyburn responded that his caucus doesn’t know the process in the Senate.

He said, “Because we don’t know whether we should send two managers or 22 managers. If we knew what the process was, we would know what to do. We do not have a process.”

Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) delivers remarks alongside Chairman Jerry Nadler, House Committee on the Judiciary (D-NY) and Chairman Eliot Engel, House Foreign Affairs Committee (D-NY), following the House of Representatives vote to impeach President Donald Trump in Washington, DC. on Dec. 18, 2019. (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

Fox host Neil Cavuto told Clyburn: “It’s not your process. That’s the Senate’s process, right? You’re not there to judge them anymore than they are to judge you.” He also wondered whether Democrats are appearing “petulant” by not submitting the articles following the votes.

“Well, the political process is a little bit like beauty: It’s in the eyes of the beholder,” Clyburn replied. “It looks very good to me and to my constituents. What Nancy Pelosi’s doing is demonstrating once again that we are a country of laws, not of men or women. And in this instance, one man.”

Last week, Clyburn said Democrats might place an indefinite hold on the articles of impeachment.

House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) leaves a House Democrat meeting in Washington on May 22, 2019. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

On Dec. 18, the House—along party lines—approved two articles of impeachment: Obstruction of Congress and abuse of power. It arose out of an inquiry into President Donald Trump after Democrats alleged he waged a pressure campaign to secure politically advantageous investigations into a potential political rival.

The move to withhold the articles triggered widespread confusion on what leverage Democrats have in the impeachment process. At least one constitutional scholar, Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman, said that Trump hasn’t been impeached yet because the articles of impeachment haven’t been passed over to the Senate.

Last week, in several press conferences, Pelosi wouldn’t commit to sending the articles, saying her caucus would have to consider impeachment managers and the Senate’s rules.

“When we see what they have, we’ll know who and how many to send over,” Pelosi told reporters. “The next thing for us … is when we see the process set forth in the Senate. We will have the monitors set forth and who we will choose.”