President Donald Trump lashed out at Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats yesterday on the eve of today’s impeachment vote. The letter, which can be read here, unleashed invective and angry responses to the expected impeachment. While the President quotes me in the letter, most of the letter has the signature style of the President and immediately drew objections over its tenor and assertions. Pelosi called the letter “ridiculous” and “sick.”
The President declares “It is time for you and the highly partisan Democrats in Congress to immediately cease this impeachment fantasy and get back to work for the American People. While I have no expectation that you will do so, I write this letter to you for the purpose of history and to put my thoughts on a permanent and indelible record.”
This letter will certainly prove indelible.
Much of the letter is hyperbolic and clearly directed at voters with statements like “You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!”
However, the President also insists that “This impeachment represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power by Democrat Lawmakers, unequaled in nearly two and a half centuries of American legislative history.” I will note that I testified in the impeachment hearing (and most recently in a column) that this impeachment has striking similarities to the 1868 impeachment of Andrew Johnson. I would not say that this is worse. Rather both in my view are disturbing in their underlying claims and records.
There is obvious anger in a number of the lines like “You dare to invoke the Founding Fathers in pursuit of this election-nullification scheme?” and “It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not I!”
Some lines however reflect the expected defense in the Senate trial including “I said to President Zelensky: would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it? I said do us a favor, not me and our country, not a campaign.” He also stressed “You are turning a policy disagreement between two branches of government into an impeachable offense.”
One of the most interesting aspects of this letter will be its impact on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell is not someone who will want to turn over the Senate floor to an unpredictable or sensational trial. If he believes that the trial could become a spectacle, he is more likely to limit witnesses and other elements.