Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump. File/ AFP
Patricia Murphy, Tribune News Service
Nancy Pelosi said it not once, not twice, but three times last week. “Mr. President, you have come into my wheelhouse.”
In other words, welcome to her world. After nearly two years of Congress leaning, bending and nearly breaking in response to the president’s wrecking ball through it, the explosive whistleblower complaint against him has now put the president squarely in Pelosi’s territory of unavoidable congressional oversight.
Political analysts were quick to say that nothing much would change with Pelosi’s announcement that the House will pursue a formal impeachment inquiry against him. Without a floor vote or select committee planned in the immediate future, what would be so different?
But within moments of Pelosi’s press conference last Tuesday announcing the inquiry, it was clear that everything had changed. Democrats were no longer living in Trump’s world. He was living in theirs, and specifically, in the comfort zone of Nancy Pelosi.
Before Pelosi’s decision to formally pursue possible impeachment, a single tweet from Trump would routinely derail months of careful bipartisan negotiations on any number of topics. Without Republicans willing to defy him or Democrats broadly ready to take him on, Trump’s opinion eventually become the only one that really mattered in the Capitol. Would there be gun legislation this year? Ask Trump. Would the government shut down without a spending bill? Ask Trump. Would the White House respond to a subpoena? Would the Treasury provide Trump’s tax returns? Would Corey Lewandowski get away with humiliating the House Judiciary Committee? Every question large and small seemed to be answered on the president’s terms.
Pelosi suddenly unleashed a moment so historic, even the president was no match for it. Nor will he be outside the reach of the formal mechanics of impeachment, including its statutes, precedents and procedures. Institutionalists like Pelosi embrace the workings of the oversight process like a warm hug and deploy them like a Tomahawk missile. But to a man like Trump, long driven by instinct and impulse, they seem to be the suffocating stuff of nightmares. Worse than anything, he won’t be the one calling the shots. He’ll simply respond to the shots as they come.
By Thursday morning, after less than two days in the wheelhouse, he already seemed to be unraveling. At an event for the US Mission to the United Nations, Trump bizarrely told the audience he wanted to know who the whistleblower is, against every respected rule protecting them. Likewise, his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, hit the gas on his own self-immolation. “I will be the hero!” he told The Atlantic, and warned Politico, “If I get killed now, you won’t get the rest of the story.’”
Instead of proving to America that they can obviously be trusted with the levers of government, the president and Giuliani proved the exact opposite. Should these two men be running foreign policy? Trump did get elected, so yes (and let’s agree the former New York mayor is acting on behalf of the president abroad). But should they be running foreign policy with no oversight whatsoever? That’s the real question in front of Americans today. With every rant, every tweet, every nervous itch that Trump scratches, the question becomes easier to answer.
Early Friday morning, Trump tweeted out a call for the resignation of House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff. The idea that a president would suggest that an oversight chairman resign at the top of an impeachment inquiry against him would have set off alarms among reporters and Democrats just a week ago. But on Friday, it was mostly met with a collective shrug.
The president can tweet whatever he wants to about that (and he did all weekend and Monday morning), but it won’t make a difference. This is the new world Trump finds himself in. Out of control of his destiny or even his day, out of his comfort zone, squarely in Nancy Pelosi’s wheelhouse.
How fitting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chose Halloween to hold her long-awaited vote on the rules governing President Donald Trump’s impeachment.
The launch by US Democrats of a long-overdue impeachment investigation into the current occupant of the White House has also resulted in a scandal which could force their
Put yourself, for a moment, in the shoes of average independent American voters in fly-over country where next year’s election is likely to be decided. Many, if not most, are probably feeling
The coronavirus pandemic is the worst global crisis since World War II, as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres points out.
Tuesday morning, Kim Kardashian-West — who, like President Trump, inherited wealth from her father but enjoys pretending to be “self-made” — went on The View to talk about how she’s coping in quarantine. I didn’t watch because, well, I don’t care what Kim Kardashian-West has to say, but judging from the response on Twitter, it went about as well as you’d expect.
Under normal circumstances, there would be considerable interest as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex step down as ‘senior royals’. But, with the COVID-19 pandemic raging across the world, the activities of the Sussexes are very low down on the news scale.
On March 1, Matt Hancock, the secretary of state for health, outlined UK government’s plans for the “worst-case scenario”. These included relaxing rules about how many children could be taught in a class at school. Just 27 days later both he and the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, tested positive for COVID-19. We are now far beyond that imagined worst-case scenario.