Amid all the impeachment hysteria and sleight of hand, here is your guide to what actually happened in Congress this week.
First and foremost, President Trump did not get impeached Wednesday night.
And he still hasn’t at the moment of this writing, more than 12 hours after House Democrats approved two articles of impeachment in the most nakedly partisan impeachment vote in over a century and a half.
The giant, block-lettered, wartime headlines in the New York Times giddily declaring “TRUMP IMPEACHED” is completely false. Fake News, you might say.
Sure, Democrats rammed through a couple of articles of impeachment, but until House Speaker Nancy Pelosi submits them to the Senate for the trial of the president of the United States, Mr. Trump stands un-impeached.
A prosecutor can draw up all the indictments against all the ham sandwiches he wants. But until he hands that indictment to the judge — files the indictment with the court — no ham sandwiches are indicted.
This hotly partisan disdain from all quarters for constitutional due process has been the hallmark of this entire crusade from the very beginning. And the jackals in the political press are all too happy to yip along the whole way.
Just days ago, Democrats in Congress were demanding that they rush through impeachment charges because President Trump is such a dire and immediate threat to the Republic that they could not allow him to remain one minute more. Then Mrs. Pelosi suddenly decides not to submit the articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate.
She says she wants to first be guaranteed a “fair” trial in the Senate. So, suddenly, she is concerned about fairness? Hilarious.
It might be tempting to assume she is coming as unglued as her dentures. But I suspect she is plotting a sneak attack that is much, much larger than just impeaching a president.
I mean, if you are going to tell a lie, tell a big lie. If you have a losing hand and you have no choice but to gamble, go ahead and gamble everything.
Perhaps Mrs. Pelosi wants to be like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and pull a Merrick Garland. Judge Garland, of course, was nominated by President Barack Obama to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in the final year of Mr. Obama’s presidency.
Being the shrewd tactician he is, Mr. McConnell turned a grave threat into a sterling opportunity. By refusing to hold hearings on Mr. Garland and keeping Justice Scalia’s seat vacant, he created a powerful political incentive for conservatives and Republicans to show up at the polls in 2016.
Few issues turned out to be more important in getting Mr. Trump elected.
Might Mrs. Pelosi simply keep the impeachment articles burning hot inside her purse into next year’s elections? Democrats have proven they will impeach the president, she could argue, but voters must give her a Democratic Senate to convict him.
No doubt that would energize her crazy base.
The problem, of course, is the utter buffoonery of the entire charade from the very beginning. The independent voters who will determine the outcome of the next election see this whole circus as the Animal House Impeachment.
In this farcical play, Mrs. Pelosi plays Dean Wormer.
“Double secret probation!” is what Mr. Trump is now on in this special non-impeached impeachment.
“Double secret probation?” asks the squeaky brown-noser.
“There is a little-known codicil in the Faber College constitution which gives the dean unlimited power to preserve order in time of campus emergency,” Dean Wormer conspires menacingly in “Animal House. “
“The time has come for someone to put their foot down,” he says. “And that foot is me.”
Your move, Nervous Nancy.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter on @charleshurt.