Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday did not dismiss the idea that House Democrats might impeach Donald Trump again in order to force the Senate to hold a trial in removing him from office in order to delay a battle over the president’s coming nomination to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.
“We have our options. We have arrows in our quiver that I’m not about to discuss,” the California Democrat said on ABC’s “This Week” program when asked about impeaching the president or Attorney General William Barr.
“But the fact is, we have a big challenge in our country,” Ms Pelosi said. “This president has threatened to not even accept the results of the election with statements that he and his henchmen have made. So right now, our main goal … would be to protect the integrity of the election as we protect the American people from the coronavirus.”
The move would be an unprecedented one for Ms Pelosi and Democrats, but in the extreme year that is 2020 and with America’s politics so divided, just about no one in Washington is ruling out anything as Republicans try to install a 6-3 conservative lean on the highest court in the land and Democrats scramble to try delaying a vote until after Election Day – or even into next year.
When ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos asked if she is ruling out any step the House could take to interrupt the Senate’s agenda, the speaker left all options on the table.
“We have a responsibility, we take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” she said. “We have a responsibility to meet the needs of the American people. When we weigh the equities of protecting our democracy, [it] requires us to use every arrow in our quiver,.”
There has been some scuttlebutt about impeaching the president for a second time, with the charges related to what Democrats say has been his ineffective and cruel response to the coronavirus pandemic. Some Democrats have suggested impeaching the attorney general for a list of actions, including appearing to do Mr Trump’s bidding on cases involving his friends or campaign associates, as well as his use of federal law enforcement against US citizens who have been protesting racial inequality and police violence against black people.
Under the Constitution, the Senate would be required to hold a trial if the House votes to impeach a president or Cabinet official.
Because a trial would tie up the chamber’s agenda for weeks or longer, it would not have time to take up something as complicated as a Supreme Court nomination at the same time.
All senators are required to be inside the Senate chamber during the trial, meaning Judiciary Committee members would not be able to hold confirmation hearings with any Trump nominee.
Democrats are pressing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to follow the path he set in 2016, when he blocked then-President Barack Obama’s final high court nominee, Merrick Garland, arguing voters should speak first about who they wanted as president. Four years later, he and his allies are vowing a vote before Mr Trump’s term expires in late January. And they are not ruling out trying to hold confirmation hearings and have a simple-majority floor vote before 3 November’s election.
“Voters should pick the president,” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said on Friday night, “and the president should pick the nominee.”