When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that she waiting to send the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate until she got a sense of whether Mitch McConnell was going to be willing to hold a fair trail, she was gambling that it would play in her favor. Sure enough, pro-impeachment poll numbers are still rising, meaning public sentiment (and thus leverage) is on her side. But now there’s another major factor involved.
Over the past several months, Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal has gotten progressively uglier for him, as the media has managed to uncover more details and more dirt. The odds were strong that the scandal would continue to get even uglier after the articles of impeachment were ratified. If Pelosi held onto the articles long enough, new dirt would likely get reported, and the Republican Senate would become more worried about holding a sham trial.
Sure enough, over the weekend the New York Times reported that Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, and Mark Esper held a secret meeting with Donald Trump before the Ukraine scandal became public, in a last ditch effort at getting him to release U.S. military aid. This clearly demonstrates to the general public that Trump and his top people all knew what Trump was doing was criminal in nature. It also places pressure on the Republican Senate to call these three guys as witnesses, and it places pressure on them to show up and testify accordingly.
McConnell and the Republicans can’t play offense on Trump’s behalf when they’re forced to play defense in the name of trying to protect their own personal re-election odds, which is what we’re now seeing play out. Lisa Murkowski was already loudly chipping away at McConnell’s options before this new report surfaced. Republican Senators now face an even more difficult no-win proposition when it comes to the trial.
Nancy Pelosi was surely gambling that the Ukraine scandal would swiftly get even uglier and thus hand her additional leverage over the fairness of the Senate impeachment trial. She just won big on that gamble. This latest revelation is also a reminder that even more dirt is likely to surface in the coming days and weeks. The longer Senate Republicans go without convincing Pelosi to hand over the articles, the messier of a trial they’ll end up being stuck holding.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report