Now that the Ukraine scandal has dragged U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) kicking and screaming into impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, she continues to display the kind of waffling that for decades has characterized Democratic Party efforts to hold crooked Republicans accountable.
Pelosi's most recent sign of weakness came yesterday when she stated the scope of an impeachment inquiry should be "narrow." In other words, Pelosi wants the House investigation to focus on Ukraine and Ukraine only -- ignoring Trump's apparent efforts to benefit from Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, along with a host of other misconduct that likely rises to the level of "high crimes and misdemeanors."
Why does Pelosi want to give Trump a pass for activities that might prove far worse than anything involving a phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky -- and could be much more damaging to our democracy? We can think of only one answer: Pelosi knows a broad impeachment investigation, including evidence produced in the Mueller Report, likely would show Trump's presidency was illegitimate from the outset -- that he never was lawfully elected president, and all of his actions have been taken without constitutional authority.
Pelosi, it appears, believes a broad inquiry might cause her political problems down the line, or she thinks the American public cannot handle the notion that an impostor president has been leading the country since January 2017 -- and he could be re-elected, even if he is impeached.
Never mind that Americans needs to know exactly how a reality-TV host, with deep ties to organized crime and a history of unseemly (stomach churning?) personal behavior, came to occupy the nation's highest office. Pelosi could prove to be a cover-up artist in the mold of Trump attorney general William Barr -- and her efforts, of course, mean the mistakes of the Trump era are likely to be repeated in the future.
Pelosi, like many limp-wristed Democrats before her, gives short shrift to the rule of law while seeking to turn the whole controversy into a political calculation. From a report yesterday at CNN:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats in a private meeting Wednesday that she wants to focus their impeachment inquiry on President Donald Trump's conversations with Ukraine, as members debate how broadly to draft articles of impeachment, according to several sources involved in the discussions.
Despite months of focus on former special counsel Robert Mueller's findings and allegations of obstruction of justice, Pelosi and top Democrats believe their strongest case for impeachment to the American public is the President's ask that the Ukrainians investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
That means if Democrats draft articles of impeachment, they are likely to be focused on the Ukraine controversy — not on allegations that Trump tried to thwart the Mueller probe. A broader resolution could make it more complicated to get the votes on the floor, according to multiple Democratic sources. But discussions about the scope of the articles of impeachment are ongoing.
Democrats, as long has been their tendency, play softball when a situation calls for toughness. From CNN:
Publicly, Democrats are debating how far to go in drafting the resolution, as well. Going too broad in articles of impeachment, Democrats fear, could become unwieldy and cost them crucial support, especially among a slew of moderate freshmen who have only embraced impeachment in the aftermath of the Ukraine controversy.
Members say that the Ukraine matter has been the most unifying instance of potentially impeachable conduct, and as such any articles of impeachment should focus on those allegations foremost.
Fortunately, some of Pelosi's colleagues are showing signs of having a testicle or two, reports CNN:
Rep. Dan Kildee, who has supported impeachment for several months, told reporters Wednesday afternoon that there is "a lot of conversation about what form this ought to take" among House Democrats.
"It's pretty clear that the Ukraine issue is the one that has really unified our caucus," he observed. "We need to put the tightest set of facts that we can assemble as quickly as we can and move, leading with the Ukraine issue," Kildee said. But he added that most members don't want to look the other way on other "egregious violations" on Trump's part. . . .
Some Democrats who backed impeachment earlier on said they want the focus to include findings of potential obstruction of justice, saying Trump shouldn't be let off the hook for allegedly trying to thwart Mueller's probe. Others say they should also address the President's involvement in alleged hush-money payments to prevent stories of his alleged affairs from coming out before the 2016 elections.
"I am someone who called for impeachment before Ukraine. I'm not about to abandon that. To do so would be tantamount to saying I came out for the wrong reasons and I would be wrong," said Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat. "And I don't agree with that."
Connolly believes the Ukraine controversy should become "article 5" of the impeachment resolution, behind other allegations of wrongdoing by Trump.