Donald Trump is pressuring Mitch McConnell to hold a swift Senate impeachment trial and acquittal. Nancy Pelosi is waiting to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate until McConnell makes some concessions toward having a fair trial (or at least one that includes some witnesses against Trump). Even as this chess match plays out, there’s another angle to all of this as well – and it just came into play.
The House impeachment hearings brought as much dirt to the surface as possible in Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal. But before the House hearings, the media had already dug up a bunch of dirt in the scandal. While the hearings were going on, the media found even more dirt. It was a given that after the House hearings ended, the media would uncover even more dirt. Sure enough it’s already happening.
Public Integrity has just gotten its hands on documents showing that immediately after Donald Trump’s infamous phone call with the President of Ukraine, the Trump regime began illegally freezing U.S. military aid to Ukraine. The documents further prove that it wasn’t mere coincidence, and that there was a conspiracy to keep the whole thing under wraps.
But the House impeachment hearings are already over, you say. Isn’t this bad timing? No, it’s perfect. The two articles of impeachment are broad enough to stand on their own, even as more details of the criminal plot emerge. The articles don’t need to be revisited or revised. This new dirt does, however, make these articles of impeachment more powerful. The more dirt the average American hears from the media about the Ukraine scandal in the coming weeks, the more likely that person is to 1) support impeachment and removal, and 2) want a fair Senate impeachment trial that isn’t merely a sham acquittal.
Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans understand this. They’ll be watching the dirt on Donald Trump get worse and worse in the coming weeks, and they’ll see more Americans in the middle start to side with impeachment and removal. The more time that elapses between now and the start of the trial, the harder it’ll be for Senate Republicans to rubber-stamp Trump’s acquittal without putting their own Senate majority at risk in 2020. And if they do acquit him and then even more dirt surfaces, they’ll be punished in 2020 for having acquitted a guy who then turned out to be maniacally guilty.
There’s an equilibrium when it comes to how long Nancy Pelosi can sit on the articles of impeachment and get the most bang for her buck, in terms of getting concessions from McConnell, and in terms of how much more dirt will surface and make the Senate trial an uglier spectacle, before the public eventually looks back at her and starts asking why she’s been sitting on the articles for so long. But we appear to be quite a ways off from reaching that inflection point, and for now Pelosi holds all the cards. She’s played this just about perfectly thus far – and it’s just getting started.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report