For weeks, even as the pitchfork brigade on social media has been targeting Nancy Pelosi because she hasn’t yet waved the impeachment magic wand in Donald Trump’s direction, Palmer Report has been pointing out that she obviously has something bigger up her sleeve. Now Pelosi is essentially acknowledging this to House Democrats, and while she isn’t revealing the specifics of her plan, it appears to involve prison. How do we know this? Because Pelosi just used the word “prison.” No, really.
Nancy Pelosi said this to House Democrats during a private meeting on Tuesday night: “I don’t want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison.” This quote has since leaked to Politico, which means she really said it. Anyone who’s read the Constitution knows that Congress can’t unilaterally put the president in prison. So what’s Pelosi getting at here?
Let’s start with what’s already known. The Mueller report makes fairly clear that once Donald Trump is no longer in office, he’ll be indicted at the federal level for obstruction of justice. He’ll be put on trial for it, he’ll almost surely be convicted, and he’ll go to prison. The feds at the SDNY have also made clear that they’ll indict Trump for felony campaign finance violations. Even if this all somehow gets derailed, New York State has made clear that it’ll pounce on Trump the minute he’s no longer in office. The question is when that’s going to happen.
If Trump wins reelection, with the way he’s dismantling our democracy, there may not be much of a United States by the time his second term ends. In the far more likely scenario where Trump loses in 2020 (he’s currently losing in every poll to every viable candidate), he’ll be indicted and arrested in January 2021. If he’s ousted before then, he’ll go to prison before then.
It’s worth pointing out that if House Democrats begin the impeachment process against Donald Trump right now, the chances of the Republican Senate ultimately removing him are zero. But if House Democrats continue building the case against Trump, and continue driving up pro-impeachment poll numbers as they’ve been doing for the past month, and then they move forward with impeachment, GOP Senators may start to feel like they selfishly have to remove Trump in order to protect their own odds of reelection.
In any case, it’s a big deal that Nancy Pelosi – who sometimes chooses her words cryptically but always chooses her words carefully – is now talking about Donald Trump going to prison. It validates that prison really is on the table for Trump, and it reveals that Pelosi’s plan involves him ending up there. We told you she’s aiming for something more consequential than mere symbolic impeachment hearings that won’t result in his removal. Next week’s big House hearings about Trump’s criminal scandals should help shed a bit more light on precisely what she’s planning.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report