- - Wednesday, June 5, 2019


Nancy Pelosi could be living out her golden years in peace and comfort.

But she chose to run for speaker of the House again and now she has a full-blown political challenge that is rapidly worsening.

It would be truly ironic if Mrs. Pelosi ends up preventing President Trump from being impeached by the House.

Until now, she has poured cold water on the prospect nearly every time she has been asked about it.

I have zero doubt that she desperately wants Mr. Trump removed from office. But she’s savvy to look at the choice in a dispassionate way.

As of now, 56 Democratic members of the House wish to begin an impeachment inquiry. They are deeply frustrated that their committees have made no real progress in their investigations of the president.

Witnesses have refused to appear because of the claim of executive privilege, the committees have not received Mr. Trump’s tax documents, and now special counsel Robert Mueller will not be voluntarily appearing before Congress, and if he does appear under subpoena, he has pledged to read from his report rather than answer questions extemporaneously.

Mrs. Pelosi’s statements about the president, that he has overseen a “cover-up,” have no basis in reality. There was nothing to cover up, as the Mueller report clearly states. The president did not fire Mr. Mueller. He was well within his authority to fire FBI Director James Comey. Either step would meet the obstruction threshold only if a “corrupt intent” could be proven, which has not happened.

Mrs. Pelosi’s central dilemma is the following: She wants to give the congressional investigations time, but the longer she waits to begin the impeachment inquiry, the worse it will be for the Democrats politically.

Roughly 40 Democrats won seats in swing districts. Exactly 31 of them are representing seats that Mr. Trump won in 2016.

These members do not benefit from an impeachment inquiry. Their vote on impeachment is guaranteed to harm them politically in 2020.

Mrs. Pelosi appears most interested in letting committee investigations continue until public opinion moves in their direction. But the inconvenient truth is that a clear majority of the country opposes impeachment.

Apart from the politics, it’s a fundamentally pointless endeavor, as a Senate trial would require 20 Republicans joining all of the Democrats to remove the president from office. This is an impossibly high bar, especially in light of the Mueller report exonerating the president on conspiracy.

If Mrs. Pelosi wants to minimize the political downside of impeachment for her vulnerable incumbents, she should begin the inquiry yesterday. Every day that passes brings the issue closer to the 2020 election.

Even though it is only early June, Congress has fewer than 30 legislative days remaining. Before we know it, 2020 will be here and the political calculation for the speaker will become even more perilous.

On the merits, the argument for impeaching the president is stunningly weak.

Additionally, Mrs. Pelosi has said she will not begin an impeachment inquiry until there is bipartisan support. But there will never be bipartisan support for impeaching the president.

Every week, more Democratic House members will join the impeachment chorus.

How much longer can she hold them back? How much longer can she resist her rabid base? How much longer can she improbably shield the president from the fate she desperately wants for him?

An impeachment inquiry will begin at some point. She will be unable to prevent it. She will relent.

The longer she waits, the worse it is for the Democratic Party.

⦁ Matt Mackowiak is president of Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.-based Potomac Strategy Group. He’s a Republican consultant, a Bush administration and Bush-Cheney reelection campaign veteran and former press secretary to two U.S. senators.

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