I’m not for impeachment. This is news. I’m going to give you some news right now because I haven’t said this to any press person before. But since you asked, and I’ve been thinking about this: Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.
Nancy Pelosi, speaking Monday to the Washington Post
It was one of those odd political coincidences, this week: when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was announcing that she was not at present inclined to impeach Donald Trump, yet another mind-roasting, slimy, utterly flabbergasting story broke to highlight just how corrupt the Trump administration really is. As hard as it is to believe, a Chinese business woman named Li Yang, known mainly as a “happy ending” massage parlour tycoon – sorry, as the owner of a chain of Florida “day spas” – has somehow insinuated herself into Trump’s Mar-a-Lago crowd, and is purporting to sell access to the President. Working through a company that maintained a website written mostly in Chinese (now taken down), Yang was offering not just chats and photo-ops with The Donald, but dinners at the White House. A bold scam, on a par with the old Nigerian Prince gambit? You’d think so, but nope, Ms. Yang has the selfies to prove she can sidle up to Donald and the whole Trump family:
I’m not seeing details on what she was charging, or what sort of access people were actually getting, and it would be the purest speculation, utterly unfounded, to wonder whether Trump himself was getting a piece of the action. I wouldn’t dare suggest it. Not that such would be anything new, mind you; when Trump became Commander in Chief, he doubled the membership fee at Mar-a-Lago to something like 200 grand, an obvious influence peddling scheme that got overlooked amid the chaos, just like dozens of other money-making scams, from raking in the dough at his hotels when foreign potentates come seeking favours, to charging the Secret Service literally hundreds of thousands of dollars for golf cart rentals (!!) and rooms when they travel to his Florida pleasure dome to protect him, as protect him they must, sadly.
Drain the swamp, he said.
Between Donald and his venal crew of cabinet scoundrels, the corruption runs so deep that I could probably write ten thousand words off the top of my head, and this is just the small stuff when you’re talking reasons to be done with Trump. I won’t bore the crap out of you – reiterating merely the most sordid, unconstitutional, criminal, racist, and dangerously incompetent episodes would take forever, and I’m guessing you don’t need the recap. No President has ever done so much to merit impeachment. Nixon was a piker by comparison. There’s just so much that even the most shocking examples get lost in the general noise. When, for example, have you last heard anybody getting all worked up over how Trump has handed over the administration of the VA to a cabal of Mar-a-Lago cronies? Who’s digging into what they’re up to with the VA’s enormous budget? Remember that?
You forgot all about it, right?
Oy. Impeachable offences? I guess The Donald’s guilty of impeachable offences. By the ton. By the bucketload. Only the crazed denizens of FoxNewsWorld would deny it, and that the Democrats nevertheless see numerous reasons why they shouldn’t go ahead with the process is a source of bitter, gut-rotting frustration. I’m not saying they’re wrong. I’m saying that to the extent they have a point, there’s no frickin’ justice, and if what’s right and decent doesn’t get you excited, there’s also the grave risk that every new day of the Trump Presidency poses to the Republic and the whole freaking world. It’s astonishing that nothing can be done about him right now, immediately, for safety’s sake if nothing else.
I mean look, for the love of God, the man is a traitor. Forget about all the other jazz. He’s a bona fide, according-to-Hoyle traitor, and if his love affair with Putin hasn’t crossed the legal line into actual treason, he’s sure as hell committed betrayals so lowdown, dirty, and un-American, that kicking his ass to the curb should be everybody’s top priority, as well as a rare pleasure, and politics be damned. Aren’t some things bigger than Party? Aren’t they?
Well, no, not any more, so Pelosi confronts a situation in which any impeachment process would appear to be futile, doomed to founder on the rocks of Republican intransigence in the Senate. She’s also astutely reluctant to feed into Trump’s martyrdom narrative, and quite properly loath to give him the ammo he needs to scream “DEEP STATE” and other such nonsense to his base. She’s probably also thinking that an impeachment will be portrayed on the right as a sort of coup d’état, and might even get Donald’s MAGA Monsters so lathered up that the moron wins re-election. On the outside chance that he was actually removed, then oh boy, it’s President Pence, looking good to win in 2020 on the platform of carrying on the sacred legacy of the wrongfully deposed ex-President, victim of Democratic skullduggery. Yay! Isn’t it smarter to wait until 2020 and let Trump go down in flames in the general election?
I get it. I do.
Still, to the extent Nancy really is ruling out impeachment, I think she’s making a dreadful mistake, and that a political calculation of that nature, at this point, is just plain immoral. Removing Donald is as much a question of Constitutional duty as politics. Besides, Trump is dangerous. Right now, today. Plus, God save us, he might just win in 2020 – if anyone can seize defeat from the jaws of victory next time around, it’s the poor, benighted Democrats. Really. Think about that. Let the horror of the prospect sink in.
From where I sit, it’s wrong in all sorts of ways for Pelosi to peremptorily take impeachment off the table.
But see, I don’t think she is. Not really. Pelosi, the sharpest knife in a Democratic Congressional drawer fairly stuffed with keen blades (truly – no snark), is playing the long game. She was around when Newt Gingrich jumped the shark by impeaching Bill Clinton in a manner perceived as entirely partisan and political. She also well remembers Watergate, and the glacial, incremental process through which that crisis evolved over the months, as testimony poured out of witnesses like John Dean, and wrangling for the infamous tapes played out in the courts. Until nearly the end, when the weight of the evidence against Nixon was finally overwhelming, Tricky Dicky remained popular with the base, and Republicans in Congress defended him zealously. Bi-partisan consensus had to wait for evidence both shocking and incontrovertible, and took time to evolve.
It will again. Numerous investigations under the auspices of Nadler, Schiff et. al. are just getting going, and Nancy knows that before long they’ll be discovering Olympic-sized cess pools of graft and illegality everywhere they look. When she says she’s going to need to see evidence so compelling that even Mitch McConnell woofs his cookies, the subtext is that you can expect such evidence to emerge, not only from Congressional investigations, but from Mueller, the SDNY, and who knows who else – everything Trump has ever done is now under investigation. Even his inauguration was full of shady dealings, foreign money, and vanishing piles of cash, tens of millions, that sure as Hell didn’t get spent on the entertainment. Everywhere you look, every stone you flip, oily, rancid, overt corruption oozes forth. It would be hard not to uncover it. What Mueller reports about hijinks with the Russians may eventually seem almost beside the point.
I know, it feels impossible. But even the Republicans in Congress have a breaking point.
Meanwhile, Pelosi has to strip those Republicans of their favourite talking point, that the Democrats are ravenous partisans determined to oust Donald even if he’s done nothing wrong. Trump harps on this at every rally. Boo hoo, woe is me, I’m doing a great job, I’m lily-white, and the nasty Dems want to run me out of town on a rail! UNFAIR!!
No, says Nancy. Actually, we dread the horror show of an impeachment, and the divisive trauma that will trail in its wake. We won’t do it until we have no choice, until even Congressional Republicans get on board. Ravenous partisans? Nonsense! We just want the truth. Only the most awful truth could force our hand, at which point we will act not in anger, but in sorrow.
Which awful truth, Nancy well knows, is going to come out. All in due course. Just you wait.