Why Nancy Pelosi Hates Impeachment

Below is my column in The Hill on Nancy Pelosi announcing that she is opposed to impeachment and that it is simply not part of “our agenda.” During the campaign for the midterm elections, I wrote that the drumbeat for impeachment was another bait-and-switch in American politics and that Democrats would quickly move away from the calls once they secured a majority. The reason was (and is) obvious. While Democrats continue to insist that Trump is harming the country and committing impeachable offenses, his removal would not serve the interests of the party for 2020. Both parties continue to play the public as chumps and this is the latest example. Even Beto O’Rourke is now backing off of his call for impeachment.

There is no compelling evidence for impeachment at this time. If Pelosi also believes that there is insufficient evidence, she should say so. That would be a principled and frankly courageous position. However, Pelosi continues to suggest that Trump is committing impeachable offenses but still opposes impeachment absent the assurance that Republicans will join in the effort. That is a bit too convenient and ignores the individual obligations of members to act if they believe that there are impeachable offenses.

Here is the column:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi crushed the hopes of hundreds of thousands of voters this week by declaring, “I’m not for impeachment.” She insisted in an interview with the Washington Post that it is simply “not our agenda.” With those words, one of the most brazen political bait and switches in history was attempted. In the 2018 midterms, Democrats held out the prospect of impeaching President Trump as a top reason for giving them back control of the House. With a drumbeat of impeachment, Democrats made their return to power the political prerequisite for removing Trump.

As I wrote before the 2018 midterms, the impeachment pitch was highly dubious. Whatever benefit impeachment might hold for the country, it was not clearly beneficial to the Democratic establishment beyond the 2018 midterms. The last thing that the Democratic leadership wants to do in this environment is to remove Trump and inaugurate a Mike Penceadministration before the 2020 election. They want Trump wounded but alive. However, Democrats are risking that, after pretending to build a case for impeachment, a real impeachment could come unexpectedly.

That is why Pelosi went into the interview with a mission. She was not subtle, telling the Washington Post, “This is news. I’m going to give you some news right now because I haven’t said this to any press person before.” Pelosi went on to explain that impeachment, which rallied the Democratic base last fall, was now deemed too “divisive to the country.” She declared that we would not “go down that path” because Trump is “just not worth it.” It was, however, worth it to win the 2018 midterms.

Democratic members whipped up the issue to such a frenzy that nearly 80 percent of voters who identified as Democrats called for impeachment in exit polls. Democratic House members have maintained the illusion of working toward impeachment with a harsh blizzard of investigations and subpoenas. However, most of these efforts focus on conduct by Trump before he became president. There is limited oversight value in some of these issues and even less potential for impeachment. Yet, the public does not understand that this is just political kabuki theatre. It actually believes an impeachment is in the making, and it is becoming impatient.

For Pelosi, the only prospect more unnerving than keeping Trump in office is the prospect of inadvertently forcing him out of office. Democrats have to appear as if they are pursuing Trump. To that end, they have launched a myriad of investigations into past taxes, past business deals, and even past insurance claims. All of these investigations raise the danger that Democrats could actually trip over an impeachable offense. Alternatively, they could fall victim to their own strategy in whipping up the passions of their base to the point that nothing but impeachment will be accepted.

What Pelosi really fears is that if “we go down that path,” it may be a path of no return toward an impeachment. If that happens, Trump could well prevail in the Senate or, worse for Democrats, he could be convicted. Democrats would then face an enraged Trump base with a new President Pence working to unify the nation after the trauma of a Senate trial. That is why Pelosi is giving “some news right now” in dampening expectations even as she declares that Trump is not “fit to be president of the United States.” But it is a hard sell to oppose impeachment while at the same time insisting that Trump is ethically and intellectually unfit. How can a president be so unfit for office that he is unworthy of impeachment?

Pelosi did say that she could be convinced to impeach Trump if there is a “compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan” case. But strong bipartisan support for impeachment, which allows Democrats to blame Republicans, is unlikely. Yet, the Constitution contemplates that members will move to impeach not when the politics are right but when impeachable offenses are present. Members of Congress take an oath to uphold this standard regardless of whether other members will further their own obligations.

If Pelosi believes Trump has not committed impeachable offenses, she should say so. But if she believes, as other Democratic leaders have said, that Trump has indeed committed “high crimes and misdemeanors,” then it is not a question of whether the president but the office itself is worth an impeachment. Of course, an oxymoronic argument is sometimes easier than the truth. The 2018 midterms were never really about the voters or their demands. It was about the party leaders and their political interests.

In the 2016 election, voters demanded a break from the establishment. The Democratic Party responded to that by rigging the primary process to guarantee the nomination of Hillary Clinton, the only public figure in our country as unpopular as candidate Trump. After Clinton lost a supposedly “unloseable” election in a wave against the establishment, Democrats responded by electing the same establishment figures including Pelosi.

Now we see that Democratic voters have been whipped into a frenzy for impeachment, their leadership is tamping down impeachment talk while letting the clock run out. It is simply not in their political interests to seek the removal of a president who is more useful in office than out. So they will allow the investigations to unfold until the 2020 election is months away, and then declare that the matter should be left to the voters unless, in hunting Trump, they accidentally stumble into an actual impeachment.

That brings us back to the real cause of this political travesty. It is us. We are duped in every election by two parties holding a duopoly of power. In each election, the parties convince voters to ignore third party candidates because voters must unite against the greater evil in the other party. Every election, we buy their arguments because we have turned into chumps. A nation of chumps.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

59 thoughts on “Why Nancy Pelosi Hates Impeachment”

  1. The 2020 Iowa Caucuses are scheduled for February 3rd, 2020. The 2020 New Hampshire Primary is scheduled for February 11the, 2020. The 2020 Super Tuesday Primaries are scheduled for March 3rd. 2020. It is currently March 16th 2019. That gives us ten months and roughly eleven days before the 2020 Iowa Caucuses.

    According to our host, and for reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with the U. S. Constitution, the Democrats supposedly have only ten months and eleven days to impeach Trump for something, anything, whatever. If, on the date of The 2020 Iowa Caucuses, February 3rd, 2020, or if on any date after the 2020 Iowa Caucuses, the Democrats uncover impeachable offenses committed by Trump, then the Democrats supposedly must delay and postpone the impeachment of Trump until after the general election day in 2020.

    [There’s nothing in the constitution to support any of that. Nothing.]

    Meanwhile, and also according to our host, not to mention for reasons having nothing to do with the U. S. Constitution, Turley says that the Democrats have a constitutional duty to impeach Trump at any time along the way that Democrats uncover impeachable offenses committed by Trump–unless those impeachable offenses are uncovered after February 3rd, 2020, or after February 11th, 2020, or after March 16th, 2020, or at any other time after the foregoing dates but before the general election day in 2020.

    [There’s nothing in the constitution to support any of that. Nothing.]

    I respectfully submit that Turley’s punch card has been bent, folded, mutilated and otherwise shredded beyond all recognition. IOW, Turley Is FUBAR.

    1. Why not? If Nancy doesn’t tell Trump, “You’re fired,” then Nancy is not “The Boss” anymore? What an odd notion of what makes a boss a boss. Bosses fire people. Bosses never hire people. Bosses only ever fire people. Ergo, unless and until Nancy fires Trump, then Trump is still “The Boss”?

  2. She was born a WOP. Last name was Alesandro. Married a WOP named Pelosi. Mafia families back in Italy on both sides.
    Be careful Trump. She does not need to impeach you. You’re arse is grass if you move to fast.

      1. Yes! Ignorant bigotry is guaranteed First Amendment protections here. Doubt it? Follow the guidelines and email Turley (email address not provided in the guidelines) and see his response.

      2. I have Italian ancestery. I was in Palermo a year or so ago and yakked with some folks about Nancy. There were some who live there who want her to be President and did not like Trump. My revelation about Nancy’s original last name (maiden) and the origin of the Pelosi name was to tell the readers something. I was not condemning her and am not a bigot.

  3. She hates impeachment because she knows that if they( the democrats) are not successful Trump will be the worst nightmare that the left could ever imagine.

    1. Impeach me if you can. Impeach me if you dare. Impeach me. Impeach me. Impeach me. Impeach me. If you don’t impeach me, you’ll be so sorry.

      Translation: The only way I can get re-elected in 2020 is if I get impeached and the impeachment fails. If I don’t get impeached, then I can’t get re-elected in 2020. If I do get impeached, and if I get convicted at my impeachment trial in The Senate, then . . . you’ll be so sorry.

  4. Off topic. I was watching Chris Mathews the other day and he was getting so excited over Beto O’Rourke that I thought he was going to start humping his leg.

    1. Exactly how kinky is your sex life, I-Bob? You know what? Never mind. Forget I asked. I really don’t want to know exactly how kinky of a sex life I-Bob leads.

  5. What you are supposed to do is quit living the lie of being part of a system that doesn’t exist or get out of our representative Constitutional Republic. We have no need to revert to the dark ages.

  6. JT throwing smoke and confusion about how Democrats feel about Trump being impeached, when Democrats know Trump will do himself in is, well moot. The citizens of this country know by now he is not right in the head. Don’t believe me? Read how Trump threatened his own citizens. JT posted it right under “Why Nancy Pelosi hates impeachment”

  7. Does the House have a constitutional duty to impeach if such offenses are present? Reasonable minds can disagree. See link below.^

    In today’s environment, the real concern is that the House would somehow ignore a real, impeachable offense? Seriously? The troops just want to impeach the m***erf***er. Something tells me that constitutional obligations aren’t top of mind.^^

    Pelosi is experienced enough to understand the conviction math and the political repercussions of acting. She also knows that her leadership is under threat and is savvy enough to leave herself a giant out. I do agree with Professor Turley that the clock is ticking should the House decide to act. An external event, such as Justice Ginsburg’s departure from the Court, would change the calculation in a heartbeat.

    “Pelosi did say that she could be convinced to impeach Trump if there is a “compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan” case. But strong bipartisan support for impeachment, which allows Democrats to blame Republicans, is unlikely. Yet, the Constitution contemplates that members will move to impeach not when the politics are right but when impeachable offenses are present. Members of Congress take an oath to uphold this standard regardless of whether other members will further their own obligations.”

    ^https://www.lawliberty.org/2019/03/15/the-house-has-no-obligation-to-impeach-the-president/

    ^^ I originally submitted this comment without obfuscating Tlaib’s “mother f” quote, but after waiting for quite some time decided it was flagged in the moderation process. It’s certainly an interesting day when some schlub commenter an a random message board is held to higher standard of public discourse than a duly elected member of Congress.

      1. Excerpted from the article linked above:

        The most relevant provision is in Article II, which provides that “[t]he president, vice president and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The provision notably does not lay any obligation on the House to impeach the president. In Article I of the Constitution, the House is given the “sole power” of impeachment. The grant of a power does not generally imply an obligation to use it.

        Moreover, the nature of impeachment itself suggests that the House has discretion on whether or not to proceed with impeachment. It is well-established that the House acts as a prosecutor in the proceeding to remove an executive officer. Prosecutors generally enjoy prosecutorial discretion not to proceed.

  8. Nancy! You are getting older! Just sit back and wait for the voters to decide to re-elect the guy in 2020! Meanwhile, shut the uckFay up!
    Media: quit putting her photos up.
    Democrats: find someone good and not some dork named Beto.
    Repubs: Decide if you want to keep him.
    Independents: Nominate your own gal or guy.
    Voters: stay home next time.
    Millenials: quit smoking.

  9. Pelosi is not in charge for that matter no one is in charge of the Demosocialist. She is now endorsing the idea that 16 year olds should be able to vote. The Demosocialist don’t know where to turn to Fup this nation. Free this, free that, open borders, get rid of ICE, white privilege, Higher Taxes, let illegals vote and now we give you “Beto”. Oh and for you 16 year olds free Root beer floats and we’ll get someone to take your SAT’s for you. Ah those Demosocialist, what a party.

        1. The level of your commentary provided obvious clues as to who you voted for. Thanks for confirming the obvious and absent confession and apology, the subsequent disqualification from being taken seriously on matters of character and politics.

          Maybe you’re a good cook or something, so everybody has value..

          1. Just a good American who has served my nation honorably of which you are not, American or honorable!

  10. Turley is LYING !
    ********************
    The number one issue for democrats was healthcare in particular protecting coverage for presxisting conditions.
    **********************
    Turley stop mansplaining Speaker Pelosi, you should be embarrassed by this poorly written column.

    1. Great catch, Anonymous, as usual. I got distracted by Turley’s double-tongue effect. Check out these two gems from Turley’s original post:

      There is limited oversight value in some of these issues and even less potential for impeachment.

      All of these investigations raise the danger that Democrats could actually trip over an impeachable offense.

      Danger? To whom? And when will Democrats trip over Trump’s impeachable offense? Poor Professor has no idea what Trump’s impeachable offense might be. He only knows that Democrats have only twelve months left to rip over it. And that it’s supposedly their constitutional duty to do so.

    2. “Turley stop mansplaining Speaker Pelosi, you should be embarrassed by this poorly written column.”
      *****************
      Well somebody needs to ‘splain for her given her incessant brain freeze at the podium. Dementia is a sad disease.

  11. That brings us back to the real cause of this political travesty. It is us. We are duped in every election by two parties holding a duopoly of power. In each election, the parties convince voters to ignore third party candidates because voters must unite against the greater evil in the other party. Every election, we buy their arguments because we have turned into chumps. A nation of chumps.

    No, that’s not the cause. For starters, the 3d party candidates you’ve seen in recent decades (George Wallace, John Anderson, Ross Perot, and Ralph Nader) each had their own shortcomings. Even had they been elected, they’d have still had to face the Congress we have.

    In the 2016 election, voters demanded a break from the establishment. The Democratic Party responded to that by rigging the primary process to guarantee the nomination of Hillary Clinton, the only public figure in our country as unpopular as candidate Trump. After Clinton lost a supposedly “unloseable” election in a wave against the establishment, Democrats responded by electing the same establishment figures including Pelosi.

    Sir, go look at the state-by-state vote totals during the 2016 Democratic donnybrook. Sanders performed well, but he didn’t have the votes. Any scamming around Medusa Wasserman Schultz may have done wasn’t that important.

    The culture of the Democratic Party is such that striking moral poses (even while doing odious things) is just what they do. Street-level Democrats aren’t the least bit aware of how asinine they are and it’s a reasonable wager many of the insiders are under the illusion that they’re on the side of the angels. Since Trump offends them, he just has to be guilty of something. The media is a component of the social nexus of the Democratic Party and they’re happy to generate talking points. Democrats think in memes and talking points. They don’t apply any critical intelligence to them as a rule.

    You’ve got several problems. There are some technical fixes which will help, not that anyone is interested. (You didn’t suggest a one). But your real problem is the decline in the quality of the professional-managerial class in this country (which supplies politicians) and a decline in the sensibilities of the public at large (which tolerates the politicians).

    1. Democrats didn’t elect an ignorant lying braggart con man..The GOP did and so it’s pretty clear where the most ignorant and asinine voters are. You’ll have that to live down the rest of your life, whether the party survives it or not.

      1. Don’t you get tired of living the lie of a Democracy that doesn’t and never has existed? If you think so quote exactly where that word may be found anywhere in our Declaration of Independence or Our Constitution. where OUR specdific type Government is guaranteed to every State but Democracy is not even mentioned. Or explain why that word and system was rejected not once but nine times by the founders.

        Your ability to live that lie suggest you are not and probably never will be a citizen.

        1. Since I didn’t use the word Democracy I guess this isn’t aimed at me, but nonetheless it is wrong.

          Democracy is a larger subset within which are governing types ranging from pure democracy – Town Halls in New England – to representative democracies of various types. The US government is of the latter type and is unequivocally a DEMOCRACY.

          1. Michael Aarethun does not often reply to a reply to him. Michael calls himself a constitutional centrist. He routinely lumps Republicans and Democrats together into the grab-bag category of socialists; albeit, socialists of the right (a.k.a. RINO) versus socialists of the left (a.k.a. DINO). BTW, those are acronyms that stand for Republican in name only and Democrat in name only. It is difficult to square Michael’s thinking with Michael’s words. However, that Michael views both Republicans and Democrats as two phony wings on a single system of one-party socialist rule is, IMO, the most strongly fixed idea that Mr. Aarethun holds. Please don’t ask me to explain how Michael explains the occurrence of elections in the United States. I have not yet cracked Michael’s case that deeply. But I haven’t given up yet, either.

  12. Surely Turley has graduated from Surrealism to Dada. Turley is seemingly demanding the impeachment of Trump–ASAP. But Turley presents no case for impeaching Trump–STAT. Instead, Turley argues that the Democrats perpetrated a fraud on their own voters by promising those voters the impeachment of Trump, when, according to Turley, Democratic leaders supposedly had had no intention of impeaching Trump. Since Turley surely teaches tort law at the University for a living, one might have expected Turley to propose . . . what remedy? The voters are supposed to sue Pelosi for reneging on the promised impeachment of Trump? Is an election a contract, Professor?

    What if Professor Turley has been patiently preparing briefs and arguments for the defense of Trump at Trump’s impeachment trial in The Senate? Has Pelosi tortiously interfered with Turley’s expected employment contract with Senate Republicans? House Republicans? The Trump White House? If so, then perhaps Turley should sue Pelosi for tortious interference with a contract to defend Trump at an impeachment trial in The Senate. Surreal? No. Dada. Way far Dada.

  13. let us await the disclosure of all of the data from the election, including the hillary emails and all the contortions of the obama DOJ before we consider who we would most like to impeach.

      1. The Vague One said, “who we would most like to impeach . . .”

        Any names to answer that question masquerading as a statement? Would you like to impeach someone who no longer holds an office of public trust under the Constitution? If not, then how is anyone else supposed to know who you would like to impeach?

        How’s about a nice Mock Impeachment n a Moot Court? Would that do it for you?

  14. Isn’t that why the Senate didn’t complete the Clinton impeachment, because it would have meant 8++ years of a Gore administration? It’s not the individual who needs to be impeached, but rather all the policies favored by the opposition party that need to be impeached. Mr Trump has done nothing that was not advanced, facilitated, and approved by the Republican Party.

      1. On the contrary. 2 key issues.

        Fair trade over free trade is a clear repudiation of the prior dogmatic slavish adherence of the GOP to financial interests, in favor of a more sound national industrial policy. I note Bill Clinton was a big free trade guy too, so, Trump is to the left of Clinton on that, apparently.

        Moreover, withdrawal from foreign adventures, was an Obama talking point, not sure he executed that well. But it was a Trump promise too, one that he’s tried to deliver in Syria, over a chorus of whining MIC sychophants in both parties. Trump, to the left of Hillary on that one too.

        See, this is what you guys just don’t get. Trump is a populist. The GOP honchos did not like or want him. The people did. Now the GOP honchos have awakened out of their brain fog, by his results. it’s a different ball game now altogether.

        1. As if Trump thought out any policy, BTW, we’re back in Syria and the “foreign adventures” he’s withdrawing from are our alliances with friends while who knows what he promised Putin, beyond helping him take down NATO.

          But thanks for point out the GOP sell out on another supposed principle – free trade. You really think this is principled and not just fear?

          1. Free trade is just some dogmatic ideal. IT is not reality. it never was. It was a policy promoted to both parties by financial interests and it has come at the expense of middle America and its hollowed out industrial base.

            As for Putin, maybe you aren’t aware that under Trump, the US has withdrawn from a strategic arms (nuclear missle) treaty with Russia recently. You must be happy. I wonder how does that jib with the lie that Trump is Putin’s supposed agent? Would an agent give the go ahead to aim intermediate nuclear missles at Russia from European bases? Uh, nope

            Well, maybe you’re happy, and McDonnel Douglass or whomever makes the intermediate missles is happy, but Europe’s not happy, I’m not happy, peace activists are not happy. Yet crazies who think “Putin” is a reincarnation of Hitler and aren’t concerned about Russia’s nuclear arsenal, keep on saying Trump is Putin’s agent, should be happy! Seems to me, you repeat again, a false dangerous preposterous lie.

            Truly, it is regrettable that Trump has allowed himself to be intimidate by you military industrial complex sycophants, into backing off more cordial relationship with Russia.

            You can talk to your friends on the left about that, they have a lot more sense than bellicose moderates like Killary Klinton who never met a war she didn’t like

    1. Sam said, “Isn’t that why the Senate didn’t complete the Clinton impeachment, because it would have meant 8++ years of a Gore administration?”

      Are we supposed to interpret your question as sarcasm, Sam? What do you mean by “the Senate didn’t complete the Clinton impeachment”? Do you know which party held a majority of Senate seats in 1998? Are you saying that Clinton was acquitted to help Gore’s election prospects? Or are you really saying that Clinton was impeached to hurt Gore’s election prospects? It appears to be the case, Sam, that you are the only one who knows what you mean. And, frankly, it’s a coin-toss as to whether even you know what you mean.

      Sam also said, “It’s not the individual who needs to be impeached, but rather all the policies favored by the opposition party that need to be impeached.”

      Are you suggesting that an election is preferable to an impeachment? Or are you suggesting that policies should be impeachable offenses? Or are you suggesting that the opposition party should be impeached? Or are you suggesting that the opposition party is an impeachable offense? Or are you suggesting that you have not the foggiest notion whatsoever you even might be suggesting?

      1. Let the record show that Republicans held 55 seats in the Senate on February 12, 1999, while Democrats held 45 seats in the Senate on that same date. The Republicans needed 67 votes to convict Clinton on either of two counts at his impeachment trial. All 45 Democrats voted to acquit Clinton on both counts. Five Republicans voted to acquit Clinton on the one charge and 10 Republicans voted to acquit Clinton on the other charge. Now here’s a reminder of what the question the Sam posed but has thus far refused to answer:

        “Isn’t that why the Senate didn’t complete the Clinton impeachment, because it would have meant 8++ years of a Gore administration?”

        Honestly, I doubt that Sam knows what he’s asking. The implication would seem to be that the Republicans who voted to acquit Clinton were worried about enhancing Gore’s election prospects. I doubt that that was what motivated those Republicans to acquit Clinton. But unless and until Sam explains what the blazes Sam is asking for in Sam’s question cited above, one must conclude that Sam has not the faintest idea what Sam is asking for in Sam’s question cited above.

        1. Poor Sambiguity. No follow through on his or her swing. Maybe Samphibole is too embarrassed to share his or her ideas with us. Sambulatory ideas like the following:

          It’s not the individual who needs to be impeached, but rather all the policies favored by the opposition party that need to be impeached.

          Some would say that that’s what elections are for. Impeaching all of the policies favored by the opposition party. Some would say that because the policies favored by the opposition party do not hold offices of public trust under the Constitution. Individuals hold offices of public trust under the Constitution. And individuals who hold offices of public trust under the Constitution are to be impeached for treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. Which raises the question as to whether Sambiguity truly thinks that the policies favored by the opposition party are A) Treason, B) Bribery or C) other high crimes and misdemeanors?

          Chances are that we will never know what Samphibole truly thinks about any of the ideas that he or she is too embarrassed to share with us.

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