Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has a unique quality, even among members of Congress. Despite appearing almost completely out of touch with the American voter and often giving the impression that she is either under-medicated, over-medicated or just a little drunk, she has managed to hold onto the leadership of the House Democrats through thick and thin. Connections and fund-raising prowess are her secret weapons. Surely, though, many congressional Democrats must wish she would avoid speaking in public, considering her ability to say things that constantly come back to haunt her party.
Referring to the extra money working Americans would keep as a result of Republican tax reform as “crumbs” resonated well beyond what Pelosi could have imagined. Should the Democrats win control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections, the nation may well be reminded of some earlier Pelosi gems that will weigh heavy on her party for at least the next two years.
How Not to Impeach a President
As the 2016 election approached, most political observers assumed a Republican Congress would duke it out with a President Hillary Clinton for at least two years. Pelosi almost certainly believed that too. In late October of 2016, she spoke to the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle about the upcoming election and its possible aftermath, among other things.
Naturally, she dismissed the idea that Donald Trump had any chance of being elected president and warned that Republicans would initiate “years of investigation” into Clinton. “The Republicans have set the table for obstruction,” Pelosi told the Chronicle. Their efforts would ultimately be in vain, however, according to the California Democrat. “I wouldn’t even be surprised if they tried to take it to impeachment,” Pelosi said, “but they can’t because everything they’re talking about is something that happened when [Clinton] wasn’t president.”
Scorched Earth Politics
Fast forward to 2019 and assume, for a moment, that Democrats have a majority in the House and, thus, control the chairs of House committees: Pelosi’s 2016 remarks will echo around the halls of power, as her party embarks upon a two-year quest for revenge. Very little legislating will get done as Democrats will spend all their time convening hearings to investigate, not only President Trump himself, but everything that he and House Republicans have done since he took office.
Pelosi’s 2016 remarks will echo around the halls of power, as her party embarks upon a two-year quest for revenge.
Of course, there will be little point in Democrats revisiting the Russian collusion conspiracy. As Pelosi said herself about the possible investigation, by Republicans, of the assumed President Clinton; that would not be something that could lead to impeachment since it is something that happened when Trump was not the sitting president. A president cannot be impeached for something that happened before he, or she, took office. Pelosi knew this when she spoke about Republicans investigating Clinton, and she knows it means nothing that happened prior to Trump’s inauguration can be used to impeach him.
This will not, of course, prevent Democrats from searching for a reason to impeach the president, but Nancy Pelosi’s words are going to haunt their efforts. They will have no choice but to use something Trump has done since taking office and, in the absence of any actual crime, will manufacture one, just as they manufactured the Russian collusion story itself. Should the minority party become the House majority, it will begin two years of scorched earth politics, attempting to dismantle and reverse everything achieved since January 2017 and litigating every word and action of this president. One must wonder if the nation could even endure such a situation until 2020.