The Republican party is trying to box the Democrats in over impeachment. This morning, as the Washington Post reports, the National Republican Congressional Committee hand-delivered moving boxes to House Democrats such as Virginia’s Jennifer Wexton and Abigail Spanberger. Committee spokesman Chris Pack explained, ‘We gave moving boxes to the Democrats who are going to be packing up their offices next November due to their obsession with impeachment.’
But the person who actually appears to be moving on is President Trump himself. It seems he filed papers in September to change his official residence from New York to Florida, which has no state income tax. Ivanka, Jared, Don Jr. and other heirs will surely be delighted that anything they inherit from Trump won’t be subject to New York’s 16 percent estate tax.
So far, however, Trump has been unable to escape a different domicile, one that he probably looks upon as a very bleak house indeed. On Thursday, even as a new AP-NORC poll revealed that 61 percent of Americans say Trump doesn’t respect democratic norms and only 53 percent of Republicans believe that the word ‘honest’ fits Trump well, his biggest nemesis, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, corralled the usually unruly Democrats to vote almost unanimously for a resolution on rules governing their impeachment inquiry while Republicans proceeded in lockstep to vote against it. Even as new evidence of Trump’s machinations to extract a quid pro quo from his Ukrainian interlocutors surfaces, the fallback position of the GOP is that however unsavory Trump’s actions may appear, they do not rise to the level of high crimes. Exhibit A was Tim Morrison, a senior National Security Council aide who is exiting the White House. Morrison sought to avoid losing his Republican Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval by testifying to the House Intelligence Committee that in essence a quid pro quo had occurred, but ‘I want to be clear, I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed.’ At the same time, he was apparently not prepared to say that Trump’s muscling of Ukraine was ‘legal.’
Still, polls indicate that the impeachment inquiry, though not conviction, has garnered the support of a slight majority of voters. Congressional Republicans are professing that the proceedings will blow up in the face of Democrats. But the hearings are a win for Pelosi in several regards.
For a start, this is about November. Pelosi’s aim is less to oust than to wound Trump. In fact, she might prefer to have him as an embattled candidate in 2020 boasting about his unmatched wisdom rather than sulking in exile in Mar-a-Lago.
But may there be even more to it than that. In pursuing impeachment, Pelosi is also on course to bollix up the Senate, which has six Democrats running for the presidential nomination. At one blow, Pelosi can rid the field of these gasbags, delivering the nomination, in effect, to former vice president Joe Biden or even Pete Buttigieg. If the Senate trial begins in January, it will force the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders to remain in Washington on the eve of the Iowa caucuses. Republican Sen. John Kennedy, Politico notes, has mused that a form of collusion may be taking place between Pelosi and Biden: ‘You know who gets screwed? Every senator running for president of the United States because they’re going to be here — have to be here — every day at 12:30, six days a week, with the primary starting in January.’ Indeed, the longer the trial goes on, the more it benefits the rivals of the senators. Whether this prospect might be enough to prompt the garrulous Sanders to become terser in the hopes of speeding along the trial is an open question. Give credit to Pelosi for figuring out how to send at least some members of the Democratic party packing.