By Bill Albee
I believe that Nancy Pelosi is the most qualified Democrat to analyze the political calculus on if and when to initiate impeachment hearings and when to hold the vote to impeach. I want her to think like Mitch.
In my opinion, all members of the House have a constitutional duty to investigate Trump’s actions as outlined in the Mueller Report and to eventually hold an impeachment vote if supported by the evidence. Since impeachment is a political process that generally reflects public opinion after all the evidence is presented in public hearings in the House, it is entirely appropriate to consider the political calculus along with the constitutional obligation to hold the President accountable for his actions.
So let’s turn it around and imagine that Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell is performing the political calculus if he were Speaker of the House with a Republican majority, Trump is a Democrat, and he must decide to proceed with all the same facts. There is no question in my mind that he would take whatever action would result in the best outcome for his Republican Party in the 2020 election. His refusing to hold hearings on Obama’s Supreme Court nominee coupled with his recent statement that he would certainly proceed with hearings on any Trump Supreme Court nominee during the last year of his presidency is ample evidence that he places Party politics ahead of his Constitutional duties and the interests of ALL of the American people.
So, if Nancy thinks like Mitch, her political calculus has to be not IF to hold impeachment hearings, but When. Mitch would not care if the opposition cried foul if he held an impeachment vote just before the election in November 2020 – too close to allow the Senate time to hold the trial. If his political calculation is that an incumbent President would be hurt the most to be under impeachment by the House, but not yet found guilty or innocent by the Senate on election day, he would not hesitate to delay the House vote until it was too close to the election for the Senate to hold the trial and likely acquit the President – optics be damned. Nancy can start the hearings at a point in time where she can drag them out until just before the elections and justify it by waiting for the Courts to act on some or all of the lawsuits over Trump and his appointees refusing subpoenas.
Rest assured that Trump and the Republicans are ruthlessly going to use every dirty trick and lie they can to win the 2020 election. Nancy needs to think like them and if going “low” is the approach that has the best chance of defeating Trump, then she needs to go low – by using the same dirty tactics that we know the Republicans will use. I find it hard to believe any Democrat or “on the fence” Independent voter would vote for Trump just because they thought Nancy was playing dirty – not in the face of the dirty tactics and lies the Republicans will surely be engaged in. Whatever Nancy’s political calculus is on the impact of impeachment hearings and the timing of a vote to impeach will have on the 2020 election, I trust that she will make the best possible political calculation of the impacts on the election.
Much as I want Trump to be defeated in November 2020, I believe the best strategy is for Nancy to wait until after the November election to hold the impeachment vote. She should hold the public impeachment hearings all next summer and fall so that the electorate sees the all the evidence just before they vote in November, but hold off on the impeachment vote. In my opinion, the evidence against Trump will have a strong influence on those voters who are in the middle, and by holding off on the vote, it denies him any ammunition that he might get from a vote to impeach and likely acquittal before the election. If Trump is defeated, then the House will have no need to take a vote. If he wins, then they can vote to impeach in January just prior to the Inauguration; too late for the Senate to hold a trial prior to the new members of the Senate to take their seats for the new session in late January 2021. That new Senate may have a Democrat majority and a vote to convict would be much more likely than if the current Senate members take that vote before the election or between the election and the Inauguration. Nancy is very smart. Nancy wants to beat Trump and I believe she will apply the best possible calculus to decide if and when to proceed with impeachment hearings, and when best to hold the impeachment vote.