Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference today that left far more questions than she answered . . . except for some members of the press. While CNN asked the more obvious question of why Pelosi keeps saying that Trump is committing impeachable acts but barring impeachment, the other reporters quickly moved to softball questions and the short time ran out, as did Pelosi. However, Pelosi did reaffirm that Trump should not be impeached because he wants it too much. That is consistent with those other principled stances like (1) serial killers should not be arrested if police think that they really want to be caught; (2) suicide jumpers should not be stopped if they really want to be rescued; and (3) bulimia victims should be given more food if you think that they just want you to intervene. The original question is still the operative question: if Trump is committing crimes and a cover up, as Pelosi alleges, why does it matter what Trump wants as opposed to what the Constitution says.
In reality, Pelosi’s claimed crimes are dubious if not clearly unfounded (as with alleged perjury by Attorney General Bill Barr). However, Pelosi wants to be able to claim criminal conduct but not shoulder the constitutional duty to act upon those beliefs. Indeed, while refusing to move ahead on impeachment, she called on the Trump family to intervene. The Constitution has an intervention process, it is called impeachment. Either you believe your past allegations or you do not. As I have previously written, the Constitution demands impeachment for impeachable offenses. Trump’s desires are not relevant to the constitutional duty imposed on the House in such cases.
Just for the record, here is the standard (which does not have a provision for refusing to impeach or removal when a president might like it):
Article 2, Section 4
The 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.
Indeed, Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., was on CNN before Pelosi’s press conference and insisted that true “patriots” have no choice but to start an impeachment inquiry. He said that members could not continue to act our politics rather than patriotism. When pressed on whether Pelosi was acting out of politics not patriotism, Cohen demurred and said that he would not answer to protect his relationship with the Speaker. Not a single reporter however asked Pelosi about that statement.
In the press conference, Pelosi said again that Trump’s impeachable conduct “cannot be denied” but apparently impeachment can.
In a bizarre exchange, CNN’s Manu Raju asked a direct question on why Pelosi continues to claim that Trump is committing crimes but refuses to allow for an impeachment inquiry. Pelosi stumbled badly. Raju tried to follow up with his excellent question with whether Pelosi still believes that Trump is committing crimes. He was cut off by a reporter who asked a soft ball question of whether Pelosi is prepared to meet with the President again. It is obvious that the answer must be yes, but Pelosi spent a huge amount of time on that meaningless question and then returned to the same reporter. The next question was little better.
For a press core that rightfully asks Trump tough and probing questions, these press conferences with Democratic leaders are remarkably mild. Raju and CNN are to be credited with pressing Pelosi and, had Raju been allowed to follow up, the public might have been given more than a repeated soundbite.