House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently told Democratic leaders that she didn’t want to impeach President Donald Trump, something she has long been resistant to politically, but instead wanted to see him “in prison,” Politico reported earlier this week.* The comment was part of Pelosi’s greater argument that the best way to seek some modicum of justice when it comes to what appears to be criminal behavior by Trump outlined in the Mueller report is to wait until he’s out of office and no longer has presidential immunity to allow the legal system to run its course. It’s a strategic decision based on evidence that crimes appear to have been committed, namely obstruction of justice, among many potential others, that may ultimately be prosecutable. It’s also calculus that is largely deferential to Trump, as president, and relies on the now-quaint notion of the rule of law being used to redress past wrongs. Some Democrats don’t love Pelosi’s approach because they believe impeachment proceedings are the appropriate forum to address Trump’s apparent crimes. Fox News host Sean Hannity, on the other hand, was absolutely gobsmacked by Pelosi’s comments.
On his show Thursday night, Hannity oscillated between outrage and disbelief that Democrats might see a legitimate legal case for prosecuting Trump once out of office.
Hannity: Speaker Pelosi now apparently telling senior Democrats that she’d like to see Trump behind bars. Based on no actual crimes, she wants a political opponent locked up in prison? That happens in banana republics—beyond despicable behavior. And by the way, they would literally turn, in many ways, the USA into a country we no longer recognize.
Hmm … jailing political opponents, you say? Who on earth would suggest such an outrageous thing?
You get the idea.
Trump was actually asked about Pelosi’s comments and had typically Trump things to say. “I actually don’t think she’s a talented person,” Trump said. “I’ve tried to be nice to her because I would’ve liked to have gotten some deals done. She’s incapable of doing deals.”
I guess that counts as progress from the president.
Correction, June 7, 2019: This post originally misidentified Nancy Pelosi as House majority leader. She is House Speaker.