Nancy Pelosi’s Chess Game With Trump Explained, Still Leaves Door Open To Kick POTUS Out

It may not have been clear at first, but she knows what she's doing.


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579 points

When the most powerful Democrat in Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, told a reporter from the Washington Post on Monday that she was “not for” impeaching the President, she turned not just the news cycle but social media on its ear, outraging anti-Trump Democrats and progressives across the country.

But there is plenty of evidence that Nancy knows exactly what she’s doing — and that what she said doesn’t necessarily rule out that procedure if the time comes for it.

Her full quote seems damning for the prospect of impeachment:

I’m not for impeachment. This is news. I’m going to give you some news right now because I haven’t said this to any press person before. But since you asked, and I’ve been thinking about this: 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. And he’s just not worth it.”

What Pelosi is pointing out is that impeachment is a difficult process, requiring majorities in both chambers of Congress — impeachment in the House, and conviction in the Senate. But Democrats do not hold the majority in the Senate, and if you look at impeachment as something like a criminal trial, you begin to understand what she’s driving at. In a court of law, if you try a defendant without sufficient evidence to convict that person, you don’t get another chance at them in court.

Similarly, an impeachment without a conviction in the Senate, which is highly unlikely, doesn’t necessarily preclude Congress from trying again later, but it does bolster the President’s case against impeachment in the future and gives him ammunition in the 2020 election to be able to say, “See, the Democrats are only interested in bringing me down, and they didn’t even have enough evidence against me to do it.”

That’s not really the case — Republicans in the Senate would likely ignore even a preponderance of evidence in order to protect the President and the Republican Party. But it wouldn’t stop Trump from running on that message in 2020.

Nancy Pelosi recognizes that the political cost of attempting an impeachment that would almost certainly not result in Trump’s removal from office is greater than the potential benefits of simply allowing House Committees to continue to conduct their investigations and potentially just charge Trump criminally in the end — impeachment be damned.

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