WASHINGTON—Far from signaling the end of House Democrats’ impeachment effort against President Donald Trump, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s widely reported opposition may actually advance the campaign, according to Republican and Democratic strategists.
“Impeachment is so divisive to the country that, unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country,” Pelosi told The Washington Post on March 11.
“He’s just not worth it,” Pelosi said in the interview.
But Trump’s lawyers and White House advisers would be well-advised not to take Pelosi’s comment at face value.
“It makes sense. I think it’s one of the few smart things Democrats have done this year,” Republican strategist Brian Darling told The Epoch Times.
“As a political matter, you’re going to have an election coming up. And if you have the Democratic Party looking like they’re trying to remove a president when he’s in the middle of his re-election and taking that decision out of the hands of the American people, it makes sense,” Darling said.
But when asked about the continuing Trump investigations of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerome Nadler (D-N.Y.) and House Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Darling said Pelosi is pursuing a two-track strategy.
“I think that’s part of the play,” Darling said, “it’s a good cop/bad cop strategy by the leadership of the House, where the good cop is Pelosi trying to sound like a moderate, while she allows the chairmen of different committees to investigate the Trump administration and to basically move forward with the impeachment process.”
Similarly, Democratic strategist David Burstein told The Epoch Times that he sees two factors at play in Pelosi’s comments.
“First, she rightly recognizes that the consequence of ending up in a place where impeaching a president probably is not good in the long run for the country,” Burstein said.
“I don’t think Democrats win out of that, and I don’t think Republicans win out of that in the short term or the long term,” he continued.
“If you think impeaching Bill Clinton was a bad idea, which I think most Democrats do, then you currently have to think impeaching Trump is a bad idea,” Burstein said, unless something that is clearly an impeachable offense is uncovered.
Burstein was referring to the impeachment by House Republicans of President Bill Clinton in 1998 on two counts, one for obstructing justice and one for perjury regarding his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The Republican-led Senate refused to convict Clinton.
With her comments to the Post, however, Burstein said Pelosi “gives a lot of her more liberal members cover who have constituents who want impeachment and they can then basically say ‘well, you know I’m for it but Nancy Pelosi said we can’t do it.’”
The politics of impeachment with the 2020 presidential election only a little more than 20 months away is far from the only issue involved in Pelosi’s comments.
For one thing, Pelosi “didn’t like the politics of the effort to impeach Bill Clinton, so I am not surprised that she is treading carefully here,” longtime Democratic congressional adviser Jim Manley told The Epoch Times.
The speaker’s ability to keep the House Democratic Caucus—which spans the political spectrum from moderate liberals to Democratic Socialists—is also at play, the strategists said.
Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak told The Epoch Times that Pelosi “knows that impeachment is not popular with the broader public and would be a political loser for House Democrats. However, progressive members will force a vote on impeachment in the next few months, and she may not be able to hold her conference back.”
Heritage Action Executive Director Tim Chapman also pointed to the power shifts within the Democratic caucus, noting, “Pelosi is a better politician than her neophyte progressives. She knows that impeachment will boomerang on the party and is doing everything in her power to reign in the young Turks. The question is whether or not she has the power to subdue the base.”
Burstein pointed out that Pelosi “has not put the Green New Deal up for a vote, she hasn’t even put [Rep.] Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the committee to review it. She is in charge and occasionally, she needs to remind people of that.”
In addition, Democratic strategist Jimmy Williams, a former longtime adviser to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), told The Epoch Times, “She’s also signaling to Trump that she’s willing to play ball on policy if he’s up to the task.
“If he’s not, and he’s actually not interested in policy, then she’ll unleash the political Kraken on him, and he will suffer daily from the congressional hearing rooms to the polling booths over the next 20 months,” Williams said.
Asked how he would advise Trump now, Williams said “he better lawyer up better than he currently is. If he thinks he’s in the clear, he’s a fool.”
Contact Mark Tapscott at [email protected]