House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is gradually moving toward giving up her stall tactic of holding articles of impeachment in the House to prevent a Senate trial, and she reportedly got the failed idea by watching CNN, according to Time.
The House of Representatives passed two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Dec.18, which most people assumed at the time represented the handoff of impeachment from the House to the Senate.
Pelosi, however, quickly announced that she was going to exploit a loophole of sorts — she would not name impeachment managers, a required action before impeachment goes to the Senate for trial. She hoped that this delay would serve as leverage to convince Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to set rules for the trial Democrats felt were fair.
As it turns out, Republicans don't really care if they never have to hold an impeachment trial for a Republican president, and McConnell has patiently waited for Pelosi to realize the futility of her tactic.
Pelosi, according to Time, thought that President Trump and Republicans would be tortured by the thought that Trump would be perpetually impeached, with no chance to acquit or dismiss. She has since learned that is not the case.
The idea apparently came from a man who served as former President Richard Nixon's lawyer, who brought it up during an interview on CNN. From Time:
Pelosi, according to an aide, had been mulling the tactic since she heard former Nixon White House counsel John Dean float the idea on CNN on Dec. 5. In the committee meeting, she added that she believed McConnell would be motivated to move. "Somebody said to me today that he may not even take up what we send. [But] then [Trump] will never be vindicated," she said, according to the aide in the room. "He will be impeached forever. Forever. No matter what the Senate does."
The extremely political move to withhold impeachment articles as leverage to establish trial terms contradicts the messaging Pelosi has put forward about impeachment this entire time, which is that it's about constitutional duty and not politics.
Pelosi, after losing support within her own party for the delay, has announced that she will appoint impeachment managers and transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate next week, clearing the way for a trial.