When Calling for Trump’s Imprisonment Is a Moderate Position

The top story in a lot of the news aggregators today makes Nancy Pelosi look like the leader of the most radical wing of the Democratic Party. Yet, if you actually read any of the articles, you’ll come away with the opposite impression.

It sounds pretty extreme for the Speaker of the House to want the president imprisoned, but she was actually making an argument against trying to remove him from office.

[House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry] Nadler pressed Pelosi to allow his committee to launch an impeachment inquiry against Trump — the second such request he’s made in recent weeks only to be rebuffed by the California Democrat and other senior leaders. Pelosi stood firm, reiterating that she isn’t open to the idea of impeaching Trump at this time.

“I don’t want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison,” Pelosi said, according to multiple Democratic sources familiar with the meeting. Instead of impeachment, Pelosi still prefers to see Trump defeated at the ballot box and then prosecuted for his alleged crimes, according to the sources.

This is where we’ve arrived in America. Advocating jail for the president is the moderate position. Not only that, but the Speaker took a pass on criticizing Trump during the D-Day ceremonies in Normandy, France.

But if Pelosi expected to get any credit from Trump for her restraint, she would have been disappointed. Rather than observe the practice of bipartisan unity while on foreign soil, the president gave an interview to Fox News in which he called Pelosi a disaster.

Trump went on to blast House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, even giving her a new nickname, when asked whether he minds if Mueller testifies to Congress.

“Nancy Pelosi, I call her Nervous Nancy, Nancy Pelosi doesn’t talk about it,” Trump said, referring to the joint [Mueller-Barr] statement. “Nancy Pelosi is a disaster, ok? She’s a disaster. Let her do what she wants, you know what? I think they’re in big trouble.”

Nonetheless, Pelosi isn’t sitting on her hands. She’s set in motion a more aggressive process for getting compliance with congressional subpoenas.

House Democratic leaders are preparing to grant sweeping authority to committee chairs to sue the Trump administration over its refusal to comply with congressional demands for information — from President Donald Trump’s tax returns to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s underlying files.

The draft resolution, which the House will consider on Tuesday, formally holds Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt of Congress for defying House Judiciary Committee subpoenas seeking Mueller’s unredacted report, its underlying evidence, and additional witness testimony.

But the most dramatic proposal will empower the chairs of all House committees to initiate legal action each time a witness or administration official defies a committee subpoena, a move to streamline and speed up the House’s ability to respond to a mounting list of confrontations with the White House.

The basic change is that Congress will no longer have to hold full floor votes every time the Democrats want to make a referral to the judicial branch for enforcement of their subpoena authority. Instead, the House leadership will be able to initiate the move on the recommendation of offended committee chairs. Technically, the Republican leadership will have a vote on these decisions, but they’ll always be outnumbered and powerless to obstruct.

This is, again, the more moderate position. The hope is that it will shake loose some new information and make stalling tactics less effective. I guess Pelosi hopes it will help land the president in the clink, too.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com