House Speaker Nancy Pelosi broke a few Democratic hearts during a Q&A with the Washington Post Magazine on Monday when Pelosi said in definitive terms that she does not support pursuing impeachment of President Donald Trump. Pelosi, like many Democrats in leadership, has been reluctant to hop on the impeachment bandwagon and crank it into top gear because she sees a far easier path to the same outcome in beating Trump at the ballot box in 2020. The 20 or so months remaining in Trump’s terms may feel like a long time to wait for the rank-and-file, especially with Robert Mueller’s report expected to be completed at some point (soon?), but Pelosi told the Post that getting political revenge at the polls remains her preferred route.
I’m not for impeachment. This is news. I’m going to give you some news right now because I haven’t said this to any press person before. But since you asked, and I’ve been thinking about this: Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.
Pelosi’s approach is a political, rather than legal or constitutional calculation. When pressed on the issue of impeachment later in the interview, and whether President Trump was fit for office, the House Speaker said he was not. “I don’t think he is. I mean, [he’s] ethically unfit. Intellectually unfit. Curiosity-wise unfit,” Pelosi said. “No, I don’t think he’s fit to be president of the United States.” This could, of course, all change depending on what the Mueller investigation ultimately turns up, but impeachment proceedings have historically been bruising, hyper-partisan affairs. Then there’s always the chance Trump will invade California or something, which, you know, would probably change the impeachment calculation. The prospect of the process of impeachment is thought to be fraught enough that the GOP itself has pushed the possibility that Democrats might try to impeach Trump as motivation for Republican voters to head to the polls. Then there’s the chance that impeachment hearings will erode the middle political ground that has been looking left in the era of Trump.