Nancy Pelosi has no good answer on impeaching Donald Trump

On Wednesday night, CNN's Chris Cuomo asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi a (seemingly) simple question:W...

Posted: May 25, 2018 6:52 AM
Updated: May 25, 2018 6:52 AM

On Wednesday night, CNN's Chris Cuomo asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi a (seemingly) simple question:

Why don't you support the idea, put forward by some of your Democratic colleagues, to impeach President Donald Trump if your party retakes the House in the fall?

This is her answer:

"Well, first of all, let me just say, our founders gave us our guidance. They said E Pluribus Unum, from many, one. They couldn't possibly have imagined how many we would be or how different we would be, but they knew that we had to be one. And I take it as a responsibility in choosing, just prioritizing as to what is unifying for our country.

"I have hesitated to use impeachment. People wanted me to impeach President (George W.) Bush for going into Iraq. And they impeached President (Bill) Clinton. We -- I -- there is an investigation. If it takes its course, let it take its course. But I do not think that impeachment is a policy agenda.

"What I'd rather talk about is, if people have an unease about government and the rest, is an agenda we put forth on Monday, which is our agenda to save our democracy, which is about reducing the role of money in politics, which changes the revolving door of lobbyists coming in and out of government, which has something that says to -- to people, if you think that your voice is not as heard as well as the voice of others, then we have to satisfy your concern and change the system.

"So let's focus on things like that, that I think are unifying for the American people. Impeachment is, to me, divisive. Again, if the facts are there, the facts are there, then this would have to be bipartisan to go forward. But if it is viewed as partisan, it will divide the country. And I just -- I just -- I just don't think that that's what we should do."

If you weren't counting, that's 279 total words -- ranging from the founding fathers through President George W. Bush and landing on unity. What a run!

Here's a point-by-point summary of Pelosi's answer:

  1. The founders wanted us to be one nation
  2. I resisted calls for impeachment in the past (and I was right to do so)
  3. Impeachment is no substitute for an actual policy plan on how to run -- or help run -- the government
  4. Money in politics and lobbyists are bad
  5. Impeachment is divisive unless it's bipartisan. And it isn't bipartisan.

She's not wrong. Impeachment is not an agenda -- certainly not for a party who will spend the next five months making the case that people need to vote them into power as a check against Trump. And any attempt at impeachment without proven crimes committed by Trump would immediately polarize the Congress and the country -- even more than we already are.

At the same time, Pelosi's careful -- and long -- answer speaks to how delicate an issue impeachment is within the Democratic base.

Earlier this week, Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green seemed to promise that if Democrats took back the House this fall, the party would move forward on Articles of Impeachment against Trump -- regardless of what Pelosi wants.

"Every member of the House is accorded the opportunity to bring up impeachment," Green said on C-SPAN. "This is not something that the Constitution has bestowed upon leadership. It is something that every member has the right and privilege of doing."

Green is in good company, among Democrats at least; 7 in 10 in a recent NPR/PBS national poll said they would definitely vote for a candidate who pledged to work to impeach Trump.

The problem for Democratic strategists -- of which Pelosi is at the top of the heap -- is that people outside of their base are far less keen on impeaching Trump. In that same NPR/PBS poll, just 42% of independents said they would definitely support a candidate who vowed to impeach Trump while 47% said they would definitely vote against that same candidate.

The issue of impeachment -- and Trump's presidency, more broadly -- highlights the gap between Democratic leaders and the party's base.

For the base, their hatred of Trump is so pure that there is nothing negative for or about him that they wouldn't be willing to countenance. For Democratic leaders, talk of impeachment hands Republicans a ready-made issue -- a way to caricature Pelosi and her caucus as radical leftists blinded by partisan hatred.

So, it's complicated. (Politics often is!) And that complexity explains why Pelosi couldn't give Cuomo a straight answer. The truth is, one doesn't exist for her.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 996341

Reported Deaths: 16245
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1343262101
Lake658231151
Allen57160791
Hamilton45963460
St. Joseph43954607
Elkhart35546503
Vanderburgh31975473
Tippecanoe27694256
Johnson24821440
Hendricks23647353
Porter22735362
Madison18538404
Clark18383248
Vigo17274300
Monroe15117197
LaPorte14987249
Delaware14931256
Howard14574286
Kosciusko12166147
Hancock11597175
Bartholomew11447179
Warrick11225188
Floyd10983214
Wayne10840248
Grant9898217
Morgan9361176
Boone8819115
Dubois8210129
Dearborn815492
Henry8107150
Noble7944106
Marshall7786134
Cass7462119
Lawrence7379168
Shelby7115114
Jackson691788
Gibson6480113
Harrison641591
Huntington630299
Knox6269105
DeKalb623796
Montgomery6184109
Miami586595
Putnam573477
Clinton567171
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Steuben550473
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Jefferson504695
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Daviess4596112
Scott433968
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Wells419787
Clay418460
White414261
Decatur4118101
Fayette402186
Jennings383260
Posey374243
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Washington352049
Randolph339999
Spencer336442
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Sullivan326652
Starke310868
Owen310169
Fulton304566
Orange290562
Jay278445
Perry264452
Franklin262742
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Rush257232
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Crawford158122
Newton155648
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Switzerland133911
Warren120116
Union106615
Ohio84012
Unassigned0532

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1490451

Reported Deaths: 23327
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1620041662
Cuyahoga1439412412
Hamilton1040301409
Montgomery727961240
Summit606541094
Lucas55296904
Butler50803707
Stark456401053
Lorain34875568
Warren32293369
Mahoning30057672
Clermont27811321
Lake26457434
Delaware23872162
Licking23361283
Trumbull22357552
Fairfield22081241
Greene21967311
Medina21624305
Clark19513349
Richland18225280
Portage17579247
Wood17122220
Allen15627269
Miami15259296
Muskingum14417174
Columbiana13587263
Wayne13494263
Tuscarawas12372298
Marion11742175
Scioto11313154
Pickaway11246141
Erie10586180
Ross10397196
Lawrence9630137
Hancock9476149
Ashtabula9370197
Belmont9059197
Geauga8766157
Jefferson8439191
Huron8172139
Union806256
Washington7995137
Sandusky7654145
Athens765372
Knox7539138
Darke7525151
Seneca7166144
Ashland6761125
Auglaize663396
Shelby6374111
Brown626282
Crawford6147130
Mercer605793
Defiance6043102
Fulton588596
Highland585899
Madison584976
Clinton573890
Logan566292
Guernsey564867
Preble5623121
Putnam5227108
Williams515384
Perry510661
Champaign500871
Jackson493470
Ottawa476686
Coshocton466382
Morrow448256
Pike428462
Fayette419960
Adams409287
Gallia408165
Hardin407176
Van Wert361578
Henry356671
Holmes3539122
Hocking349078
Wyandot315761
Carroll294559
Paulding274345
Meigs256849
Monroe210553
Noble195146
Morgan188132
Harrison177042
Vinton161124
Unassigned05
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