What Was Nancy Pelosi Thinking?

This was a previous Shero article that I published in May. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has just declared that she has instructed her team to move forward with charges and with drafting the Articles of Impeachment (see below). I thought it would be good to repost it not only because I was right, but more importantly — because Nancy Pelosi was right.

May 31, 2019

Twitter is a minefield right now. I’m sure this is true across all aspects of social media because friends who use other platforms have told me the same thing; that activists are frothing at the mouth in calling for impeachment. I get it. I’m furious that Donald Trump continues to act like the law doesn’t apply to him and tired of feeling like it actually might not. I support moving forward on a formal impeachment investigation that would involve hearings and possibly lead to some more table-turning discoveries. But because I am a trained attorney, I also understand the need to collect solid facts and evidence, lay a proper groundwork and present a rock-solid case to the jury. The jury in this instance will be the American public after the U.S. Senate will undeniably refuse to move forward on impeachment and how the process is perceived will determine the 2020 election. 

Social Media is Not the Real World

recent collection of polling shows that Trump’s job approval rating has stayed put between 38 and 44 percent of Americans approving of the job he’s doing overall. This means what we already knew-that his base will not flinch no matter what happens. This has been emphasized by his continued support even in the face of large income tax increases and the hit to business, particularly in farming and industry, that his latest trade war with China have caused. His policies are hitting his own people the hardest but they refuse to quit him.

A Quinnipiac University poll reflects that the majority of U.S. voters are not in favor of impeachment even though they think Trump is a criminal. In this poll, 66 percent of American voters say that Congress should not begin impeachment as compared to the 29 percent who want it. Even though Democrats support impeachment 56-38 percent, that number in favor is still not exceptionally high, especially when compared to Republican opposition, which is 95 percent against impeachment. A critical number to review in terms of impeachment is Independents, because they are essential for the Democratic Party in 2020 and they are strongly against moving forward on impeachment at 70-27 percent. You can make the argument that impeachment shouldn’t be political, but the reality is that the next presidential election is the horizon and there’s no way around it.

These polling numbers against impeachment exist even in the face of a majority of American voters saying 57-28 percent that Donald Trump committed crimes before he became president. Compare this number to the results of a March 5th Quinnipiac National Poll, before the release of the Mueller Report, in which voters said 64-24 percent that Trump committed crimes before he was elected. In terms of polling, the Mueller Report and the subsequent spin the Trump Administration was able to do thanks to Attorney General William Barr, was effective in pulling more independent support.

What is telling from this polling data is that the country is completely split on their view of Trump committing crimes after he took office-46 percent of voters say Trump committed crimes since he became president and 46 percent say he didn’t. Although it’s possible that these numbers have shifted since this poll was conducted on May 2nd, it’s not likely considering Mueller’s press conference did not provide much new information capable of seriously shifting public perspective.

What is Pelosi Thinking?

It’s important to note that although the House is now held by a Democratic Majority, the lead on voting to impeach would be slim. There would need to be 218 votes from house members out of 235 people in the total Democratic caucus. Although the house most likely has a pro-impeachment majority at this point, only 52 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives publicly support impeaching or formally investigating Trump, and the needle has not moved much since Mueller spoke publicly. There are also 31 house members who represent districts Trump won in 2016 and risk another loss in 2020 by calling for impeachment, which would take us right back to the beginning. 

We have polling data that says that impeachment is not a particularly popular proposition, even amongst Democratic voters and we have the hesitation of house members to commit publicly to moving forward for various reasons. We also have the need to present a methodical, flawlessly conducted investigation to the senate that utilizes the courts, which are slow. But most importantly, we have seasoned politicians who understand that if we lose again in 2020, we will have no where to go.

Nancy Pelosi may be moving slowly, but she’s moving. She’s keeping the pace of someone who has a big-picture perspective of all of the political and legal strategies available, despite this being un-charted territory. Although she has not announced a formal strategy for moving forward, she has kept the public updated on incremental changes that have pushed the majority closer to investigative hearings. She has affirmatively stated that she believes the president has violated the constitution and needs to be held to account. Even though some people are demanding that she do this with her hair on fire and her head spinning, she can’t. Firstly, because she’s a woman and the double-standard would annihilate her and secondly because it’s her job to be a calm and effective leader and keep everyone unified. 

She has announced every collective step closer to impeachment and she does this with caution because she has to coordinate many opposing sides within her own caucus. It was only last week that she formally accused Trump of committing a “cover-up.” These slow, methodical steps while adding increased pressure to the question of “will they or won’t they” always keeps Trump guessing. Pelosi has made it clear she knows how to play Trump, she does it beautifully. She’s doing it now. The people who claim to support her, but who are quick to call for her removal, who are angry at her failure to make a public statement about the exact details of the plan have overlooked some things. Consider the many court challenges brought by Congress against Trump that he continues to lose on a weekly basis. Or the three distinct committee arms who are each traveling down different roads to ultimately attack from opposite angles. Or the way certain members are so coordinated with their press game that they each have a strength and take the lead when it is needed. Or the fact that the Democratic candidates, for the most part are all on the same page moving forward, but it has yet to be an issue for them in their individual campaigns and no one has spoken out against another Democrat. None of this is coincidence. It is all very coordinated and part of a strategy that Pelosi is managing. 

It’s necessary to remind people intent on attacking Speaker Pelosi and even calling for her removal that she is not wholly in charge of this collective law-making body. She has a lot of players, with differing speeds and agendas that she has to corral into a unified force. Moving at this pace may not even be what Pelosi wants at this point, but if she only has a narrow party majority, and there is an impending inevitable loss in the senate, the foresight to see how this all plays out in 2020 is invaluable. 

With all of this being said, I am in favor of moving forward on impeachment, even though it will be quashed by the senate. I think we should do it for ethical reasons to make a statement about accountability. But I can also recognize that I do not have the experience of Nancy Pelosi and other seasoned house Dems. So, until I have major cause to turn on such a proven leader of my party, I will support her. This is the one good quality Republicans have-they know how to get in line and push the ball forward at all costs. If you want impeachment proceedings to begin, great-but be smart about how you advocate for it.

Look up where your specific Representatives stand on the issue and contact them directly to push them to push for it. You can be firm while being respectful, in fact, it’s the best way to get people to take you seriously. Moving the dial internally is the strongest way to get leadership to pivot. Ranting in every comment section of social media about Pelosi or impeachment to start fights with people you don’t know on social media is a waste of time and dangerous, because it galvanizes the opposition. Keep fighting for what you believe in, I’ll be right there on the front lines with you. But don’t waste your time with pointless fights-otherwise people will think you’re too angry to know what you’re talking about, you will sway no one and you’ll prove that you’re only really interested in fighting.

Amee Vanderpool writes the “Shero and a Scholar” Newsletter and is an attorney, contributor to Playboy Magazine, analyst for BBC radio. She can be reached at avanderpool@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.

I Read the 300 Page Intel Report So You Don't Have To

The House Intelligence Committee has released a substantial report on the investigation into Trump’s actions with Ukraine that we have watched unfold for the last two months. This report will provide a critical factual basis and help to inform the charges against the president in the impending articles of impeachment. The report concludes that Trump endangered national security, undermined the presidential election process and put his “personal and political interests” above those of the nation. The overall intent of the report is to appeal to a sense of duty — to make a claim not only about the incidents of wrongdoing, but the importance of protecting American Democracy. It presents facts that paint an overall picture of a President who is consumed with abusing his power.

The report focuses heavily on obstruction that goes well beyond Trump’s attempts at pressuring President Zelensky. The details of the President’s efforts to obstruct lawmakers at every turn is also explained, including blocking access to witnesses, withholding critical documents and testimony that may have been coerced. The report confirms that a dozen current or former administration officials refused to comply with investigators and that ten officials refused Congressional subpoenas entirely. Schiff also describes the various agency arms of the White House, such as the Office of Management and Budget, the State Department, the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, and how each refused to produce any of the requested and subpoenaed documents to the Intelligence Committee.

Robert Mueller is mentioned often in both the report and in the footnotes and there is a discussion about the fact that the July 25 Ukraine phone call between Trump and Zelensky came the day after the special counsel testified to the House about what Mueller found in his investigation into Russian election meddling. A reference is made to Mueller’s assessment that Giuliani attempted to undercut the special counsel probe by pushing the conspiracy theory that Ukraine had been responsible for the 2016 election interference and not Russia. This is the same narrative that prominent Republican opposition continues to push in the media every day in an attempt to defend Trump’s actions with Ukraine.

“With this backdrop, the solicitation of new foreign intervention was the act of a president unbound, not one chastened by experience. It was the act of a president who viewed himself as unaccountable and determined to use his vast official powers to secure his reelection.” — House Intelligence Committee Impeachment Report, page 10

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the Intel Report is that one of the committee’s own ranking members played a major role in the actual investigation — from the perpetrator side. Phone records that were obtained by investigators show that Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA) spoke four times to Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani earlier this year. These phone calls sync up to the time when Giuliani was knee-deep in his attack campaign against former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Nunes was arranging his trip to Ukraine, in which he allegedly spent $60,000 of taxpayer money, to further pursue the knowingly false Ukrainian conspiracy and help the President dig up dirt on a political opponent. 

The records also show that Nunes spoke to Giuliani’s recently-indicted associate Lev Parnas in April. Lev Parnas’ lawyer has claimed he was explicitly “on a mission” and tasked by Trump to investigate the Bidens’ activities in Ukraine. Records from the report also show that former Nunes staffer Kash Patel also spoke with Giuliani for 25 minutes on May 10. This was soon after Giuliani briefed former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker on his upcoming trip to Ukraine, according to House Intel records. 

It is also interesting that both Nunes and Patel are suing every media outlet who have published allegations of their participation in Trump’s Ukrainian scandal, especially given the confirmation of their involvement by the House Intel report. Devin Nunes’ own committee has just provided more proof to anyone defending a defamation claim against Nunes. Nunes has yet to recuse himself from the committee’s investigation in which he is now a known key player.

Another critical aspect of the report is the analysis of Trump’s attempts to intimidate witnesses and the criminal implications that may have. The report cites four specific instances when Trump used his Twitter account to attack Congressional witnesses, including his attacks on the whistleblower, who was the subject to more than 100 public statements during a two-month period. Trump will not be prosecuted for any federal crimes while he’s in office thanks to Mueller’s legal conclusions and directives, but this could have criminal ramifications for Trump once he leaves office. The Democrats made a point to note in the report that a federal prison sentence for witness intimidation carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

There is also a discussion about Rudy Giuliani declining to represent former Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, because he was too busy digging up dirt on Joe Biden for Donald Trump. The report goes further to detail how Lutsenko then hired Toensing and diGenova, the husband and wife team who are Trump loyalists. The report further connects the dots by denoting that these lawyers also represent John Solomon, the Hill journalist who continually writes take-down opinion pieces that mirror Giuliani’s talking points on the Bidens, Marie Yovanovitch and Ukraine.

The Intel Report also calls aspects of testimony from Ambassador Gordon Sondland into question, specifically his testimony about a Sept. 9 phone call in which Trump allegedly said he did not want a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine. The report concludes that this portion of his testimony is “at odds with the weight of the evidence and not backed up by any records the White House was willing to provide.” The White House has no record of the call and Sondland later revised his testimony to say he was not sure of the actual date this call took place. Based on the testimony of Taylor and Morrison, who discussed the call with Sondland, the committee has concluded that the call must have taken place on Sept. 7, but the lack of exactitude in Sondland’s initial testimony casts doubt on the entire exchange.

“Donald Trump is the first president in the history of the United States to seek to completely obstruct an impeachment inquiry undertaken by the House of Representatives under Article I of the Constitution…No other president has flouted the Constitution and power of Congress to conduct oversight to this extent…Even President Richard Nixon — who obstructed Congress by refusing to turn over key evidence — accepted the authority of Congress to conduct an impeachment inquiry and permitted his aides and advisors to produce documents and testify to Congressional committees.” — House Intelligence Committee Impeachment Report, page 27-28

The overall tone of the report is one of an urgent need for a history lesson refresher in the most critical time in our nation’s history. The report refers to more than 100 references to the Constitution and delves deeply into the intention of the founding fathers in constructing a government that specifically had a removal tool for tempering the power of a treacherous president. The theme chosen by the Intel Committee represents the best chance of appealing to members of the Senate who have lost their sense of patriotic duty. This focus on historical context with a description of broad allegations will also provide the Judiciary with as much leeway as possible to utilize every charge they find necessary. It is a stark reminder of the purpose of our government that has been lost by half of the country for over two years — a reminder of who we are supposed to stand up to and what we are supposed to stand up for.

If you like this piece and you want to help support independent journalism from a female perspective, you can forward this article to others or send a gift a subscription to someone else today. 

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Amee Vanderpool writes the “Shero” Newsletter and is an attorney, contributor to Playboy Magazine, analyst for BBC radio. She can be reached at avanderpool@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.

What's Next in the Impeachment Process

After two months of investigating Trump’s actions to pressure Ukraine into attacking his political opponent, Congress now enters its next phase of the impeachment process which adds more committees and more hearings. The House is expected to vote on whether to impeach President Trump before the Christmas break, which leaves approximately three weeks to conclude the investigation, draft the formal articles, present them to the entire House and vote. It’s a tight schedule, but given how quickly Democrats moved through taking witness testimony and conducting private and public hearings, there is little doubt that the remainder of mammoth tasks will be checked off one by one.

Although there is no specific timeline set forth by the Constitution with regard to impeachment proceedings, the decision by Democrats to move swiftly and resolve the vote before the holiday is a practical move. It’s essential that they finish the vote and hand the next portion over to the Senate at the start of 2020 to conclude the process as quickly as possible, before the frantic election cycle really begins. The last thing Democrats want to see is a drawn out (and futile) Senate trial that runs well past spring and forces several presidential candidates to chose between their jobs in the Senate or the campaign trail.

The next phase of the process includes a public release of the Intel Committee’s findings from the investigation so far, which will form the basis of the impeachment charges brought against Trump. We will also see Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) conduct a series of hearings with scholars and experts on the impeachment process itself. This is a necessary component to the impeachment process and considering how we always seem to be in uncharted territory with the Trump administration, it seems especially wise now.

On Monday, House impeachment investigators released a report to members of the House Intelligence Committee that detailed what was formally uncovered in their impeachment inquiry investigation into the alleged offenses of Trump with regard to Ukraine and possible other activities. The Intelligence Committee then voted to approve it by Tuesday, after which time the report will be released publicly. Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) has confirmed that the report will be released to the public at some point on Tuesday (see below.)

The report from the Intel Committee won’t list the formal articles of impeachment, but it will provide a synthesis of all of the information collected so far to give the Judiciary Committee direction when they begin to formally draft the articles of impeachment. Think of it this way: Intel is the detective on the case and Judiciary is the prosecutor. Intel investigates and gives their report to Judiciary, who then reviews the findings and speaks with experts and determines how to formally charge the President.

On Wednesday, the Judiciary Committee will begin hearings of their own, but these hearings will be different from what we’ve seen so far. They will call experts in Constitutional Law to help guide the process and determine what is the appropriate way to proceed in formalizing the Articles of Impeachment. Considering that this process has only been conducted three other times in the history of the United States, it’s important to make sure that the House proceeds with the most accurate and legally solid case for impeachment for presentment of the articles to the Senate for a conviction.

The Judiciary Committee is determined to perform its task thoroughly and accurately and to this end, has presented Trump with the opportunity to present his own defense and participate in the proceedings. On Nov. 26, Rep. Nadler sent President Trump a letter that gave the specifics about how Trump could participate. Instead, Trump went to London for the NATO conference on Monday and had White House Counsel Pat Cipollone respond to Nadler with a scathing decline that accused Democrats of bias. In the letter, Cipollone stated that “an invitation to an academic discussion [would not] provide the president with any semblance of a fair process.” Make of that what you will.

Republicans have further attempted to take control of the narrative in the media by issuing their own 123-page rebuttal report just after the Judiciary Committee announced their first four witnesses. This was done to presumably get the jump on the legitimate report release from Intel. House Republicans argue that Trump did nothing wrong, but rather acted out of “genuine” concern about corruption in Ukraine. They also argue that Democrats do not have a basis for impeachment and that the entire effort has been “an orchestrated campaign to upend our political system…based on the accusations and assumptions of unelected bureaucrats who disagreed with President Trump’s policy initiatives and processes.” Despite this grandiose attempt by Republican die-hards to tap dance at the behest of Donald Trump, facts and credible witness testimony proves otherwise.

After taking expert testimony on the legal process of impeachment, the Judiciary Committee is expected to present Articles of Impeachment next week so that the House can quickly review them and get to a floor debate. We don’t have a definite list of the charges yet, but given my review of what has been said so far by Democratic leaders, I am going to propose that the following charges are likely to be levied. We should see an umbrella charge for general Abuse of Power. I am also expecting a charge for Obstruction of Congress for the way in which the Trump administration refused to comply with deadlines and subpoenas, and for the court rulings now coming down that support this premise.

There could also be a witness intimidation charge for Trump’s tweet threats made during the testimony of former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch that Schiff was careful to denote in real time to make sure the proof went into the formal record. Depending on how specific House Democrats decide to be, there could be charges for bribery. The House could also decide to charge Trump for everything so far, including his attempts to obstruct many aspects of the Mueller investigation and report. I don’t see this happening, though. I think Democrats will be looking to present the most reasonable, best chance for conviction set of charges to the Senate so that they can’t be accused of overreaching.

If everything continues according to schedule, then we should see the presentation of the articles to the House for debate in the third week. There will be a floor debate on the charges that could last for a few days and then the House of Representatives will vote on whether to impeach President Trump. Given that Democrats have the solid majority, there will be a vote in favor and the next stop is the Senate. If the House Intel Committee is the detective and the Judiciary Committee is the prosecutor then the Senate is the jury.

The Articles of Impeachment will then make their way to the Senate in the new year for a trial and possible conviction. Luckily, we will be through the holiday season, but unfortunately we will all be tired and a little hungover. Brace yourselves though, because this is when we can expect the circus to really begin.

If you like this piece and you want to help support independent journalism from a female perspective, you can forward this article to others or send a gift a subscription to someone else today. 

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Amee Vanderpool writes the “Shero” Newsletter and is an attorney, contributor to Playboy Magazine, analyst for BBC radio. She can be reached at avanderpool@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.

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