The top two Democrats in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), have called a time out on impeaching President Donald Trump, crushing the dreams of thousands of progressive activists and many of their House colleagues.
Pelosi announced the decision to forgo instituting impeachment proceedings on a call with House leaders Tuesday morning telling 170 Democratic Members of Congress on an insane, 90-minute conference call, that the House will instead focus on investigating the President and let the American people decide what to believe in November of 2020.
Fox News reports that Pelosi told her colleagues that "we have to save our democracy."
"This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about saving our democracy. If it is what we need to do to honor our responsibility to the Constitution – if that’s the place the facts take us, that’s the place we have to go," she added, before claiming that the "facts" simply don't point to removing the President from office quite yet -- but that further investigation could lead there.
"We don’t have to go to articles of impeachment to obtain the facts, the presentation of facts.”
In a letter released ahead of the call, Pelosi got into greater detail.
“While our views range from proceeding to investigate the findings of the Mueller report or proceeding directly to impeachment, we all firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth,” Pelosi wrote to Democratic Members. “It is also important to know that the facts regarding holding the president accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings.”
"Whether currently indictable or not," she added, "it is clear that the president has, at a minimum, engaged in highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior which does not bring honor to the office he holds."
In other words, Pelosi plans on spending the next eighteen months directing multiple investigations into Trump, his finances, his businesses, and his White House, in the hopes that the public impact of such probes will seriously injure the President, giving Democrats an advantage in the 2020 election.
That's less of a political move than a strategic one. All along, Democrats have assumed -- rightfully -- that President Trump would likely benefit from impeachment proceedings in the House, particularly if he could use those proceedings to justify his claims of a "witch hunt," and substantiate his supporters' fear that Democrats are simply "out to get" Trump and stalled on any real policy initiatives.
They would much rather make the election a referendum on Trump than give Trump the opportunity to present his defense.
Hoyer made a similar point to CNN's Dana Bash Tuesday morning. “Based on what we have seen to date," Hoyer said, "going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point. Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgement."
For Democrats, it's likely the right, most politically expedient choice. But that doesn't mean progressive activists and fellow Dems weren't left utterly bereft, on a sea of sadness, at the thought of forgoing their chance to impeach the President simply to earn the upper hand in an upcoming election.
Former Obama Administration speechwriter, Jon Favreau.
This is unbelievably disappointing. Even if you don't ultimately pursue impeachment proceedings, why on Earth would you say this today?— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) April 18, 2019
Part of the American people making a judgment in 2020 requires a full account of the President's criminality and abuse of power. https://t.co/DB634jA2Fq
The Steny Hoyer quote is just unreal.— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) April 18, 2019
Left-leaning commentator Judd Legum.
What about the election that happened 6 months ago when people voted for Democrats on the promise they would hold Trump accountable? https://t.co/sll7sG6v3w— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) April 18, 2019
The list goes on and on and on.
Unbelievable cowardice. https://t.co/niJUGbvp6e— David Roberts (@drvox) April 18, 2019
So now political leaders get to break whatever laws they want in order to boost their power and it's all good b/c if the voters get mad they can vote against them afterwards.— Hunter (@HunterDK) April 18, 2019
If only there were hundreds of years of historical precedent on what happens right after that. https://t.co/lpJmky9LsL
Hard disagree. https://t.co/R66I00MHmv— Neera Tanden (@neeratanden) April 18, 2019
One particularly Crooked Media journalist was so enraged, he posted an entire thread on the subject.
Some things Democrats could say if they weren’t terrified of doing the right thing:— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) April 18, 2019
That's just rough.