Nancy Pelosi is not prone to hyperbole and she is known for choosing her words carefully and deliberately. That’s why it’s a big deal that Politico is reporting that Pelosi told colleagues that she wants to see Trump in prison rather than impeached. The way Politico is reporting the conversation between Pelosi and other “top Democrats,” suggests that Pelosi views impeachment and a prison sentence for Trump as an either-or choice.
This gives something away about recent reporting regarding the Mueller Report and the ongoing investigations that branched off from the Mueller investigation. You will no doubt recall that author Michael Wolff claims to have seen a very detailed memo written by Mueller himself that defended bringing charges and indictments against Trump while Trump was still in office. Wolff claims that Mueller simultaneously began investigating if, how, and to what extent Trump could shut down Mueller’s investigations, fire him and his team, and pardon his way out of legal jeopardy. Wolff suggests that Mueller became convinced that if Trump and/or his family members were charged while Trump was in office, Trump was indeed likely to be able to fire and pardon his way out of peril.
Now, recall the strange turn of events with Judge Emmet Sullivan and the Michael Flynn case. Most of us were anxiously awaiting the release of previously redacted information about Flynn’s crimes, including Judge Sullivan’s order for prosecutors to release a transcript of audio recordings of Flynn and Russians. On the day of its scheduled release Judge Sullivan inexplicably reversed course and said the DOJ did not have to release the information. The only plausible reason for such a dramatic reversal is that the DOJ convinced Judge Sullivan that releasing the recordings would interfere with an ongoing case or investigation.
Taken together with Pelosi’s statements about her preference to see Trump go to prison rather than to see him impeached, this suggests that Mueller and perhaps many others at DOJ became convinced that the best way to make sure Trump and his family are prosecuted is to keep ongoing investigations secret, and do nothing to trigger Trump into mass firings, investigation shutdowns, and the handing out of pardons.
Mueller seemed to believe bringing charges against Trump’s family would trigger that chain of events, and now Pelosi seems convinced that impeachment proceedings – at least at this time – could also trigger Trump into those actions. One thing is for certain, there are still a lot of ongoing investigations and prosecutions proceeding in secret.
Cheryl Kelley lives in the DC area with her husband and young son. She is active in government and politics.