Current Affairs

Empty words: Why Pelosi is suddenly saying she wants Trump ‘in prison’

Becket Adams

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told senior Democrats, this week (June 6), that she does not want to impeach President Trump, she wants to see him “in prison,” according to reports.

Before you walk away believing the country’s most powerful Democrat really fantasized about imprisoning her chief political opponent, allow me to offer a theory about what is really going on: Pelosi’s alleged remarks, which were reported first by Politico, are part of a carefully planted narrative that allows her to look tough on Trump without actually having to do anything about him. The idea is to tell the Democratic base that Pelosi is “with them,” without also jeopardizing her party's chances in the upcoming elections.

If there is one thing the speaker has tried to hammer home to her colleagues since Trump was inaugurated in 2017, it is this: Stop talking about impeachment. It is unrealistic and it will kill us at the ballot box. This has been Pelosi’s most consistent message in the Trump era. In fact, it has become something of a running joke, the number of times that reporters ask her about the issue only for her to respond as she always does with a variation of “not happening.”

But many in the Democratic base are out for blood. They want Trump and company impeached, removed from office, punished, etc. This leaves Pelosi in a difficult spot. She wants to extinguish all talk of impeachment because she knows it is electoral poison. Yet she cannot be seen as soft on Trump. She knows what happened to former Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, when Republican voters saw him as too easy on former President Barack Obama.

So, how do you placate a base that is out for blood without actually giving it blood? Promise it that you will deliver what it wants — eventually. This worked for eight years for the Republican Party with their empty promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It can work for Pelosi, too.

Consider this key excerpt from the Politico report:

“I don’t want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison,” Pelosi said, according to multiple Democratic sources familiar with the meeting. Instead of impeachment, Pelosi still prefers to see Trump defeated at the ballot box and then prosecuted for his alleged crimes, according to the sources. 

The sources cited in the Politico report are sure to convey that Pelosi is motivated to see Trump punished. More importantly, the report’s sources are doubly sure to convey Pelosi’s core message that impeachment is a no go, especially ahead of the 2020 elections.

The “in prison” line allows the speaker to look like a good anti-Trump ally who is just as angry and determined as anyone in the base to see "justice." But it is clearly in service of avoiding an impeachment.

[Courtesy: Washington Examiner]