Why Pelosi Is Unlikely To Try To Impeach Trump

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will soon have to make one of the biggest decisions of her political career: whether to impeach President Trump.

Starting impeachment proceedings seems unlikely to end in a Senate conviction given the two-thirds majority needed in a body Republicans control with a 53-47 majority.

That makes it a tricky political proposition, especially as Democrats eye a 2020 election they think could end the Trump era and leave Democrats in control of Congress and the White House. That scenario would leave Pelosi with the chance at scoring some sweeping policy achievements on health care and climate change in her last years in Washington.

The risk of impeachment is that it could backfire.

If the public turns on Pelosi’s party for focusing on Trump and impeachment instead of legislating and governing, it could give new political momentum to Trump — just as an impeachment push by a Republican, Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), did for Bill Clinton in 1998.

It’s not unimaginable that Trump could win four more years with the Senate staying in GOP hands and the House flipping, though for Pelosi and Democrats that’s the nightmare scenario.

The next six to nine months present the best opportunity to move bills and strike deals on infrastructure or prescription drug pricing before politics make that virtually impossible.

An impeachment push would make that legislating more difficult while giving Trump and his allies the chance to fight back.

“Say what you want about Nancy Pelosi,” Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said, “but she is a student of history. The impeachment of Bill Clinton blew up in Republicans’ faces ... impeachment would probably kill any hope of bipartisanship with Trump.”

Democrats picked up five House seats in the 1998 midterms, a stunning result that led to Gingrich’s resignation.

Read more from Bob Cusack and Ian Swanson at The Hill

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