For the last month or two, we’ve watched in horror as House Democrats have pursued the impeachment of Donald J. Trump. But while the horror has stemmed from their complete lack of evidence, their stunning lack of a crime at the center of the allegations, and the grossly partisan fashion in which they’ve operated, there has always been another part of our brains at work. That part, unconnected to our support for President Trump and our loathing for Democrats, can only look at these proceedings with befuddlement.
It has been instructive to watch the polls remain stagnant – if not actively trending in Trump’s direction – since impeachment proceedings began. Instructive…but not surprising. Because this was the plainly obvious result of impeachment from the beginning. There was simply no political upside. There was no way Trump was getting thrown out of the White House. This was a show with no audience. Why would Pelosi embark on a mission so clearly destined to fail? We don’t believe she’s the brilliant politician her supporters tell us she is, but is she outright stupid?
But then former Congressman Trey Gowdy penned an op-ed for Fox News that may have shed some light on what, exactly, Pelosi is up to:
The impeachment inquiry, investigation, votes, and ultimate refusal to transmit articles are not about removing Trump from office. Rather, it is a tacit acknowledgment he will be re-elected in November of 2020. The plan now is to use impeachment to neuter that second term with a Democrat-controlled Senate.
This impeachment exercise is most assuredly about removing someone from office. It’s just not about removing Trump from office. It’s about removing Cory Gardner, Martha McSally, Thom Tillis, Susan Collins and Joni Ernst from their senate offices.
A Democratic Senate would make the assemblage of a Cabinet next to impossible, end the filling of judicial vacancies, paralyze the country should there be a U.S. Supreme Court opening and ensure that both the House and Senate spend their time investigating the executive branch.
If you think the country made little to no legislative progress with a Democrat-controlled House and a Republican president, just wait until there is a Democrat-controlled House and Senate and a Republican president.
Gowdy’s theory is not just compelling because it explains why House Democrats would embark on a quixotic mission against Trump – it works because it also explains why the House rushed forward without bothering to really try to get any administration officials to testify. It wasn’t because there was some emergency; it was because they want all of this to play out in the Senate. They want Republicans like Gardner and Ernst to vote against calling Mick Mulvaney, Mike Pompeo, and John Bolton. They want them on record being “complicit in the coverup.” And then they want to use those Senate votes to run opposition ads throughout the fall.
We’re not sure that this strategy is any more a winning one that the impeachment itself, but it at least makes a certain amount of sense. Unfortunately, it also shows you how far Democrats are willing to twist a constitutional process to serve their own political ambitions.