Speaker Nancy Pelosi told senior Democrats that she’d like to see President Donald Trump “in prison” as she clashed with House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler in a meeting on Tuesday night over whether to launch impeachment proceedings.
Pelosi met with Nadler (D-N.Y.) and several other top Democrats who are aggressively pursuing investigations against the president, according to multiple sources. Nadler and other committee leaders have been embroiled in a behind-the-scenes turf battle for weeks over ownership of the Democrats’ sprawling investigation into Trump.
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. [Continue reading…]
Democrats debating whether to impeach Donald Trump may be misreading the evidence from the last time the House tried to remove a president.
It’s become conventional wisdom—not only among Democrats but also among many political analysts—that House Republicans paid a severe electoral price for moving against Bill Clinton in 1998, at a time when polls showed most of the public opposed that action.
But that straightforward conclusion oversimplifies impeachment’s effects, according to my analysis of the election results and interviews with key strategists who were working in national politics at the time. While Republicans did lose House seats in both 1998 and 2000, Democrats did not gain enough to capture control of the chamber either time. And in 2000, lingering unease about Clinton’s behavior provided a crucial backdrop for George W. Bush’s winning presidential campaign—particularly his defining promise “to restore honor and dignity” to the Oval Office.
Matthew Dowd, a senior strategist for Bush’s 2000 campaign, told me that Democrats today “are learning the wrong lessons” from Clinton’s impeachment by neglecting to consider how it shaped both election cycles, especially the presidential race. [Continue reading…]
Just as a prosecutor might hesitate to ask a grand jury to indict even an obviously guilty defendant if it appeared that no jury is likely to convict, so, it is said, the House of Representatives might properly decline to impeach even an obviously guilty president — and would be wise to do so — if it appeared the Senate was dead-set against convicting him.
But to think of the House of Representatives as akin to a prosecutor or grand jury is misguided. The Constitution’s design suggests a quite different allocation of functions: The Senate, unlike any petit (or trial) jury, is legally free to engage in politics in arriving at its verdict. And the House, unlike any grand jury, can conduct an impeachment inquiry that ends with a verdict and not just a referral to the Senate for trial — an inquiry in which the target is afforded an opportunity to participate and mount a full defense.
Take, for instance, the 1974 investigation of President Richard M. Nixon when the House gave the president the opportunity to refute the charges against him either personally or through counsel and with additional fact witnesses. (Nixon chose to appear only through his attorney, James D. St. Clair.) Following its impeachment proceedings, the House Judiciary Committee drafted particularized findings less in the nature of accusations to be assessed by the Senate — which of course never weighed in, given Nixon’s resignation — than in the nature of determinations of fact and law and verdicts of guilt to be delivered by the House itself, expressly stating that the president was indeed guilty as charged. [Continue reading…]