Republicans Are the Ones Who Want to Talk About Impeachment

There has been a lot of criticism of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi lately, stemming mostly from the fear mongering about her that is coming from Republicans. But she has once again demonstrated hard-earned political savvy in her immediate response to the fact that the president has been implicated in a federal crime involving campaign finance violations.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says impeaching President Donald Trump is “not a priority” for Democrats despite the conviction of Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and the guilty plea of his former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Pelosi tells The Associated Press that “impeachment has to spring from something else.”

Pelosi says she prefers for Democrats, if they win the House in November, to conduct oversight and ensure Special Counsel Robert Mueller can finish his work.

She says: “If and when the information emerges about that, we’ll see. It’s not a priority on the agenda going forward unless something else comes forward.”

Let’s be clear, she’s not echoing her 2006 statements about impeachment being off the table. She’s basically agreeing with what Martin wrote yesterday.

In truth, the proper way to deal with this is not to call for impeachment hearings or bray to the hilltops about how the president is a felon. The proper way to deal with it is to make it part of an eventual argument for Trump’s removal based on the entire Mueller report.

But Pelosi also knows how this is playing out in terms of the midterm elections. Democrats don’t need to be pumped up with impeachment talk right now. Every day Donald Trump and his congressional enablers demonstrate that their corruption knows no bounds.

Pelosi underscored that message in a letter sent to caucus members on Wednesday, urging them to keep talking about the “cesspool of self-enrichment, secret money and ethical blindness” and how House Republicans are turning a “blind eye to the corruption and criminality at the heart of President Trump’s inner circle.”

Corruption scandals have helped swing midterm elections in the past, and beyond Trump’s legal troubles, this message was bolstered by recent corruption charges against Representatives Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter. But Pelosi emphasized that Democrats “must also stay focused on delivering our strong economic message to hard-working families across America.”

Meanwhile, here’s the problem Republicans are facing heading into the midterms:

The president’s contempt for mainstream polling and the media may come back to haunt him in November. Several top Republican operatives working on the midterm elections told me Trump’s fanciful “red wave” predictions could depress Republican turnout and, ironically, serve to make any blue wave even bigger…

We’ve seen it in focus groups, with Republican base voters, where you’ll come up with a hypothetical that the Democrats win, and people are like, ‘That’s not going to happen, that’s stupid.’ … They’re like, ‘Oh, to hell with this crap, we were told Trump wasn’t going to win. It’s bullshit.'”

One sure way to fire up Trump’s base is to make the midterm elections a referendum on the impeachment of the president. That is precisely why Sarah Huckabee Sanders was offering this spin yesterday:

“The idea of an impeachment is, frankly, a sad attempt by Democrats, it’s the only message they seem to have going into the midterms,” Sanders said, after a reporter said “some legal experts and lawmakers are saying the President is corrupt, and that there are grounds for an impeachment case.”

Sanders said the calls for impeachment were “another great reminder of why Americans should support other like-minded candidates like the President.”

In about two weeks, we begin the final stretch heading into the 2018 midterm elections. What’s clear is that the plan for Republicans will be to ramp up the threat of impeachment if Democrats gain congressional majorities combined with an awful lot more fear mongering about immigrants. In other words, they’ll be nationalizing the elections based on Trump’s agenda, while Democrats will focus on meeting the needs of their constituents, especially on issues that are important in their district/state. We’ll see how all of that turns out in November.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .