In an explosive interview with The Washington Post, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she won’t move to impeach Donald Trump. Despite calling Trump “unfit” to be president, she said impeachment is too divisive and Trump is “not worth it.”
But the real reason she won’t impeach Trump is that she’d fail spectacularly. Pelosi needs bipartisan support to oust the president, and she doesn’t have it. Not even close. The inevitable failure would be catastrophic for the Democrats going into the 2020 election. And it would only strengthen Trump’s re-election campaign.
“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.”
NEW: Speaker Pelosi on impeachment: "They wanted me to impeach President Bush for the Iraq War. I didn’t believe in it then, I don’t believe in it now. It divides the country. Unless there is some conclusive evidence that takes us to that place." pic.twitter.com/G1wtDuMnwi
— Bo Erickson CBS (@BoKnowsNews) March 11, 2019
Why Donald Trump’s Impeachment Is Almost Impossible
On simple Congress math alone, Trump is pretty much immune to impeachment. Although Democrats in the House could easily trigger an impeachment trial, it would fail miserably when it reached the Senate.
Here’s how the process works. The House can vote to begin impeachment proceedings with a simple 51 percent majority. A trial then moves to the Senate where the president can employ defense lawyers.
But here’s the kicker. Democrats would need a two-thirds majority (67 percent) vote in the Senate to oust the president. That would require 20 Republicans turning on their own president.
For this reason, no president has ever been impeached. Clinton’s impeachment moved to Senate trial, but he survived the Senate vote. Nixon resigned before the impeachment process.
Republicans Won’t Turn On Their President
Trump has certainly stirred up disagreement in the Republican ranks. John McCain famously said:
“The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naïveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate.”
But despite the backlash, Senate Republicans aren’t about to stab their own party in the back. If impeachment proceedings moved to the Senate, they would vote overwhelmingly to support the president.
A Failed Impeachment Would Hand Trump the 2020 Victory
The Democrats would suffer an embarrassing defeat if they tried to impeach Trump. They would look weak and powerless against the Republican party. Trump, on the other hand, would emerge stronger and emboldened by surviving the threat.
I suspect this is a political move by Pelosi, not a line in the sand, so I would not overreact to it.
That said, given that DOJ will not indict a sitting president, refusal to impeach unless Senate conviction is certain lets a Senate Minority put a president above the law. https://t.co/Phf5WLMGBq
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) March 11, 2019
Pelosi is reported to have considered the outcome with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff who said he and Pelosi agreed that a “failed impeachment isn’t a good idea.”
A failed impeachment means Trump would be vindicated of all the accusations against him. The accusations of Russian collusion and bribery would be swept under the carpet. Trump would emerge cleaner than before.
The Democrats need these issues to attack Trump throughout their 2020 presidential campaign. If he is cleared of all accusations, Bernie Sanders and co. will have no ammo left. Trump will be invincible and he’ll walk his way back to the White House.
‘I don’t think he’s fit to be President of the United States’
Despite Pelosi’s hesitance to impeach Trump, she maintains he’s “unfit” for the presidency.
“No, I don’t think he’s fit to be President of the United States… [He is] ethically unfit, intellectually unfit, curiosity-wise unfit.”
Q: Do you believe he's fit to be president?
Pelosi: Are we talking ethically? Intellectually? Politically? What are we talking here? … I don't think he is. I mean, ethically unfit. Intellectually unfit. Curiosity-wise unfit. No, I don't think he's fit. https://t.co/vHsKOGWtXs
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 11, 2019
Other Democrats claim the evidence against Trump is sufficient to start impeachment proceedings. Rep. Maxine Waters (California) says “we have everything we need to impeach Trump,” citing the 17 active investigations against him.
Others, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, believes Trump has met the bar for impeachment “multiple times.” According to the constitution, a president can be “removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanours.”
For now, it doesn’t matter what Trump does. The Democrats won’t impeach him for fear of spectacular and embarrassing political defeat.