Why Pelosi Folded on Trump's Impeachment

The nation’s top elected Democrat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has now declared publicly that her party will not impeach President Trump. In a lengthy Washington Post interview published Monday, Pelosi left the door slightly ajar, saying her decision could change if  “compelling” new evidence emerged. Still, hers was a significant announcement, signaling a major change in the party’s trajectory.

Why did Pelosi make the decision? Why now? What are the benefits and perils for her party and for Pelosi’s leadership?

The longtime congresswoman is a savvy strategist, and her decision was purely strategic. She made no apology for two years of unproven charges, no admission her party had been fundamentally wrong in its most basic and vocal claim since the 2016 election: that Donald Trump is not the legitimate president of the United States. He is illegitimate, they charge, because the election itself was tilted by Russia. The most incendiary charge is that Trump worked with the Russians to rig the results.

No one doubts that the Russians tried to interfere. They are a geopolitical enemy, eager to cause chaos and confusion. But questions arise regarding (1) what impact the Russians had (the consensus is “not much”) and (2) whether the Trump campaign cooperated with them. If Trump worked directly with a foreign adversary to undermine our Constitution, he does not deserve to be president. That was the main reason Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel, to probe Russian interference and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Now, Pelosi is effectively saying, “Never mind.” She did so quietly, with no comment on the powerful charges her party has made against Trump. That’s too easy. What’s her explanation for backing off the incendiary charges? After all, if those charges are true, they should lead to impeachment.
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