Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi gets my vote for Who Won The Week? this week. First, by following protocol and the rules for impeachment, (created by the Republicans, by the way) she led the House through the impeachment proceedings and a vote to impeach, which was approved on almost straight party lines. However, this was not a partisan procedure. Only two articles of impeachment were approved, narrowing the focus to address Trump’s obstruction of Congress and abuse of his office, while many other articles could have been put forward addressing many other concerns about the president. Pelosi and the other leaders of the House Intelligence Committee and the House Judicial Committee conducted a fair and unbiased investigation, with many credible fact witnesses and convincing testimony, while the Republicans whined and complained that it was just a “partisan and unfair” impeachment. They could not dispute the facts of the case, so they relied on criticizing Democrats for disliking Trump since he was elected and calling for impeachment from the beginning. While those facts were true (the Dems disliked Trump – but so did many Republicans back in 2016 – and there were early calls for impeachment for what people saw as improper and suspicious corrupt behavior), the Democrats were not just “waiting for their chance” to get Trump. Pelosi held off on impeachment for several months as the calls for impeachment grew louder as evidence of Trump’s corruption, lies and erratic behavior mounted.
Further, the Republicans claimed that the Democrats wanted to “undo the will of the people” by nullifying the election, which has not been the case at all. If Trump were removed from office, his chosen vice-president, Mike Pence, would become president and all the appointed cabinet members, judges and Supreme Court justices chosen by Trump would remain in office. Hardly a Democratic annulment of the election!
Finally, after Mitch McConnell had the audacity to declare that he had no intention of conducting a fair trial in the Senate, that he would cooperate totally with the president, Pelosi decided to withhold the articles of impeachment until the Senate comes up with a plan for a fair trial so that the House can appoint managers for the proceeding. If McConnell doesn’t back down (which probably wouldn’t change the Senate’s vote to acquit the president of the impeachment charges anyway), she may continue to hang on to the articles, delaying a conclusion to exonerate Trump. This will cause Trump further anxiety because he wants to be able to boast that he was totally exonerated from all charges by the Senate, confirming his opinion that the impeachment was a “witch hunt.” The longer McConnell stalls, the longer Pelosi can refuse to transmit the articles of impeachment, denying the Senate a chance to resolve the case. Her action has echoes of McConnell’s own refusal to even question President Obama’s choice for Supreme Court justice to replace Scalia for nearly a year, on the chance that a Republican would win the election. McConnell won that gamble. Hopefully, Pelosi’s recalcitrance will push the Senate to at least pretend they are conducting a fair trial.
Nancy Pelosi has proven to be a strong and effective Speaker and very skilled in political maneuvering. She commands the respect of House members in spite of earlier efforts to discredit her leadership. I doubt McConnell gets similar respect from many Senate members. Since he is up for re-election this year, hopefully the voters of Kentucky will let him know he doesn’t have their respect anymore either.