According to the Post report, the only person in the room who even brought up impeachment was Pelosi. And when she did, it was to mock the idea. “Why aren’t we impeaching the president?” Pelosi said, mimicking “frustrated” Democrats. “Why aren’t we impeaching him? They get a little down. The point is that we need to show [voters] that we are doing all of these other things that they care about so much.”
The meeting appears to have come after White House counsel Pat Cipollone send a letter to Nadler not only informing him that the White House was not going to cooperate in providing information to the House Judiciary Committee, but issuing a statement that “Congress is not a law enforcement body and does not have a legitimate purpose” to investigate any president about anything. But this direct challenge to Congress’ ability to conduct oversight, or to use impeachment, doesn’t seem to have moved the dial. If anything, the meeting seemed to signal that impeachment was not even under consideration, no matter what had been said in public.
And it’s not as if the public message has been anything other than 90% “no impeachment.” Despite his professed anger in the Judiciary hearings, and his response to Cipollone’s letter, Nadler on Wednesday said, “I don’t want to make it sound as if we’re heading for impeachment. Probably we’re not.” House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, who has been one of the most consistent and adamant legislators in investigating Trump—and the focus of multiple hate tweets from Trump—said last Sunday, “We are already a bitterly divided country, and an impeachment process will divide us further.”
All of these statements in front of cameras—and more importantly, the statements being made where cameras aren’t watching—are sending a strong signal of no strength. Despite Trump’s obstruction. Despite his obstruction of the obstruction. It appears that impeachment is, if not off the table, then certainly a long, long way from being initiated.
That’s not just a disappointment to the many Democratic voters Pelosi was imitating when she said “they get a little down”; it’s also something that judges will definitely take into account when looking at the seriousness of Democratic subpoenas. As legal experts testifying before the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday made clear, a House that’s engaged in impeachment—and even one that’s seriously considering impeachment—has authority that goes beyond the normal bounds of oversight. A House that’s fixed on dealing with a “policy agenda” does not.