Impeachment: A Battle Between Two Legacies

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. gavels as the House votes 232-196 to pass resolution on impeachment procedure to move forward into the next phase of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. The resolution would authorize the next stage of impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, including establishing the format for open hearings, giving the House Committee on the Judiciary the final recommendation on impeachment, and allowing President Trump and his lawyers to attend events and question witnesses. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Wednesday night after a marathon day of impassioned speeches for and against the impeachment of the President of the United States, the Democrat controlled House of Representatives voted – for only the third time in our nation’s history – to impeach a president.

A process that started just 12 short weeks ago, seemed to be on the fast track to the senate for a constitutionally mandated trial slated for sometime in January. 

Speaker Pelosi expressed the gravity of President Trump’s alleged impeachable acts in her remarks before the impeachment debate:

“If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty. It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice. What we are discussing today is the established fact that the president violated the Constitution..[G]reat fear of a rogue or corrupt president is the very reason why [The Founders] enshrined impeachment in the constitution.”

After uttering these words, you would think Speaker Pelosi would want to move with great haste to send over their partisan articles of impeachment to the senate, right? 

Especially after this impeachment vote was compared to the civil rights movement by House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries.

The very next day after the historic vote, Speaker Pelosi sent Majority Leader Hoyer and Majority Whip Clyburn out in front of the press with a controversial face saving test balloon. 

This test balloon was meant to gauge their activists – which of course includes the mainstream media – reaction to a possible delay in sending the articles.

CNN anchor John Berman asked Majority Whip Clyburn how long was he willing to wait for articles of impeachment to be sent over to the senate? Clyburn responded, “as long as it takes.” 

Clyburn was asked later in the interview if he believed the Speaker should sit on the articles until there are “fair rules.”

If it were me, yes, that’s what I’m saying. I have no idea what the Speaker will do. But if you have a preordained outcome that’s negative to your actions, why walk into it? I’d much rather not take that chance. Even if [McConnell] doesn’t come around to committing to a fair trial, keep those articles here. 

MSNBC’s Willie Geist was even more direct. He asked Majority Whip Hoyer if articles of impeachment will ever make it over to the senate: 

Well, I don’t think that’s the case. And I hope it is not the case…So I hope that the process will proceed in an orderly fashion because that’s what the founders had in mind.”

Those two tepid responses yesterday from House leadership surely can’t give Democrat activists a lot of confidence.

How can you one day give an impassioned plea to impeach and remove a president, and then the very next day send out smoke signals signaling you may not send articles of impeachment to the senate?

The fact that this is even a discussion among House Democrats is remarkable!

I think what this apparent capitulation by Democrats shows is that Donald Trump’s impeachment is not really about removing him from office, it is about tarnishing his presidency and legacy with the stain of impeachment.

And, the last thing the DNC wants is five of their presidential candidates on record voting for the unpopular removal of the President. Medicare for All, green energy “new deals” and billionaire surtaxes would be entirely swallowed up by impeachment talk on the campaign trail. 

Pelosi, with pressure from vulnerable freshman in her caucus and from senate presidential candidates, is making a purely political calculation with any delay. 

The inside the beltway talk says the delay is just a maneuver for Democrats to gain leverage over the senate rules process. That is probably the case. 

But I also believe its a last chance effort for Democrats to go back to their districts during the Christmas break and try and convince their activists that impeachment is a sure electoral and political loser for them and that censuring the president is a better option.

Washington D.C. is a town where monuments heralding legacies are all around you. Congressional office buildings are named after famous senators and congressmen.

Statues immortalize our founding fathers and other notable Americans for their contributions to this great country.

The first female speaker of the House doesn’t want part of her legacy to be she presided over an unpopular and partisan impeachment proceeding that caused her to lose her speaker’s gavel.

Pelosi also doesn’t want part of her legacy to be she helped increase the Republican’s majority in the senate and helped reelect a president she and her Party absolutely disdain.