Just moments after the House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on December 18, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made an unexpected announcement. Rather than immediately transmitting the articles to the Senate, where an impeachment trial would be held, the House would delay sending them over until Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell committed to a fair process for conducting the trial.
On Thursday, one award-winning journalist suggested that provoking Trump into fits of anger may be exactly what Pelosi was hoping to achieve. Former Rolling Stone writer Eric Boehlert took to his own Twitter account to call Pelosi’s decision to withhold the articles of impeachment from the Senate a “stroke of genius.”
The delay appeared to bother Trump deeply. He tweeted at least eight times attacking Pelosi for the holdup, culminating in a two-part Twitter rant on Christmas Day, and followed it by even more tweets attacking Pelosi on the morning after the holiday, as a Business Insider report documented.
In his Christmas Twitter attack, Trump asked why Pelosi was “allowed to Impeach the President of the United States” with only a “slight majority” in the House.
Former Trump aides and associates have also told the media that Trump is anguished by impeachment, saying that due to his “acute” insecurity, simply being impeached — whether he is acquitted in the Senate or not — will leave “deep scars.”
As a Politico report on Thursday noted, however, the Democratic House majority is not “slight.” With a 36-seat margin, Democrats now hold the fifth-largest majority for either party since 1999. Under the Constitution, the House — which possesses the “sole power” of impeachment — needs only a simple majority to pass articles of impeachment.
When a Republican-controlled House impeached President Bill Clinton in 1998, the GOP held only a 19-seat majority, slightly more than half the current Democratic advantage.
Trump, according to Politico reporters Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman, may have “never fundamentally understood the power shift in Washington” that occurred when Democrats won 41 seats in the House to take back the majority in a reported “blue wave” election.
“He went from dealing with an all-Republican Congress to having to fend off a ferocious Democratic majority,” wrote Palmer and Sherman, adding that despite a diverse membership, the Democratic coalition in Congress has “largely held together,” another factor leading to Trump’s impeachment on articles accusing of abusing the power of his office and obstructing Congress.
McConnell had reportedly said that he refused to be “impartial” during the trial, and that he would allow no witnesses to testify, prompting Pelosi to declare, “we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us.”