Friday, January 10, 2020

Pelosi's Procedural Ploys on Impeachment

The Democrat led House of Representatives broke light speed records in order to vote to impeach President Donald Trump before Christmas.  Yet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA12th) has refused to name impeachment managers and send the Impeachment Resolution to the Senate. Inquiring minds seek to know why.

As the final impeachment vote was taken on December 18th, 2019, perhaps Pelosi hoped that it would dominate holiday conversations while the House was adjourned. This tactic did not achieve the tsunami of support for removing President Trump.  In fact, polling show that Mr. Trump increased his favorability ratings.  After the vote was taken, it was difficult for the mainstream media to keep up the clamor about impeachment, especially as it is procedurally stalled. 

Officially, Pelosi has proffered the rationale that she was withholding the Articles of Impeachment from a Senate to ensure a fair trial.  This is laughable considering how the Democrat majority ignored its own precedents on impeachment, ditched due process and achieved passage on a partisan nearly party line vote, with Democrat Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbord (D-HI 2nd) voting present and three House Democrats voting “nay”, including Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ 2nd) who switched parties after the vote.

Pelosi reportedly got the idea to stall sending the Impeachment Resolution to the Senate based upon a suggestion from Nixon White House counsel and MSNBC contributor John Dean. This may be a ruse to allow the leftist firebrands of the party to claim victory for getting Mr. Trump impeached without going through the formality of a trial which is destined to fail as it can not achieve 67 votes.  Or it may have been a delay tactic to try to tack on more articles of impeachment to accompany the rather weak tea “Obstruction of Congress” and “Abuse of Power” allegations.  However, the taking down of Iranian terror leader Solemani did not lead to an undeclared war, so that charge was for naught.

Surely the Speaker’s staff knows that having an outsider dictate how the Senate will take up an impeachment trial is unconstitutional. Article I Section 3 Clause 6 of the Constitution stipulates that:  “The Senate has to sole Power to try all Impeachments”.  

Of course, constitutional considerations might not prevent some grandstanding in a power play over the Christmas holidays.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had pencilled in a light legislative schedule for January 2020 in anticipation of an impeachment trial.  With Speaker Pelosi’s incalcitrance on sending the Senate the Articles of Impeachment, Leader McConnell proposed that the Senate might well take up the Impeachment even if the House fails to name Impeachment Managers, which would effectively dismiss the charges.  This move prompted Ms. Pelosi to indicate that she may take steps to move the resolution forward next week.

The reasons for holding the Articles of Impeachment from the Senate might been more political.  Former South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy suggested on Fox News that holding the Impeachment into the primary season might have caused tough votes for vulnerable Republican freshman Senators Martha Mc Sally (R-AZ) Corey Gardiner (R-CO) and Joni Ernst (R-IA).  That may be true but the politics may well have been more intermural. 

Democrats are engaged in an uncertain Presidential primary process with no clear leader before the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary.  Several leading candidates (and a few also rans still in the race) are still in the Senate.  Impeachment trial rules require all Senate participants to attend all of the trial in order to vote, which effectively would take Senators Sanders (Socialist/Democrat-VT), Warren (D-MA), Klobachar (D-MN) and Booker (D-NJ) off of the campaign trial or reveal them as slackers of the current elective office.  Had the Articles of Impeachment been immediately been sent to the Senate in December, it is likely that it would have impeded the January 14th debate, which is the last debate before the Iowa Caucuses. 

Democrat Impeachment backers have argued for an expanded trial, which would include public witnesses which go beyond the nearly non-existent fact witnesses during the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff (D-CA 28th) Show and House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY 10th) proceedings.  But if the witness list is opened up to President Trump’s defense, former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden (D-DE) and his controversial son Hunter Biden may be compelled to testify, which could be messy and take a favorite of establishment Washington Democrats off the hustings and into the fire of tough invigilation.

Presuming that Pelosi is being procedurally political and tipping the scale to favor the only establishment candidate who consistently has a chance to beat President Trump,  it would be prudent for the Speaker to prompt a floor vote on Thursday January 16th and then adjourn for the Martin Luther King Holiday (oh, that’s right, District Work Sessions) and it would not be picked up until January 28th.  Even if House Judiciary Chair Nadler worked expeditiously in sending things to the Senate, it might not be received until the eve of the Iowa Caucus.  

That sort of scheduling would require Senators to be present in Washington and not canvass in the final days of the New Hampshire primary, which would give Joe Biden and South Bend “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg a leg up on the competition during opening arguments which may last about a week.    The next week is the South Carolina primary where (if polling is accurate), Biden has a commanding lead and Mayor Pete is quite weak.  That might give Biden the mojo to become the front runner. 

While it is highly unlikely that the Senate will muster the 2/3rds Super-majority to remove President Trump, the case may not be dismissed in a summary judgment like vote after opening argument.  In the even that Biden is requested to testify by the Senate, he may be able to stall until after Super Tuesday March 3rd, when he would either be the odds on favorite or an oddball also ran.

So Pelosi’s slow roll of advancing the Articles of Impeachment presumably are political but may well be partisan in inter-Democrat politics along with trying to take the Senate back into Democrat hands in the 117th Congress. 

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