That’s what Nancy Pelosi had to say about Donald Trump’s six-page “Dear Madam Speaker” letter, which, frankly, reads like something that would be marked “evidence” in the murder trial of a jilted boyfriend whose ex disappeared six months previous following a bad breakup.
“I’ve seen the essence of it”, Pelosi said Tuesday evening, while striding through the halls of the Capitol, where she was asked for her reaction to the screed.
On Wednesday, dressed in a dark suit to mark the somber occasion, the Speaker opened the impeachment debate. “Our founder’s vision of a republic is under threat from actions from the White House”, she said. “If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty”.
“It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice”, she lamented.
“Under the rules adopted by the House, the debate Ping-Pongs between Republicans and Democrats, managed by the chairman and ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee”, The New York Times writes, explaining the proceedings, before offering the following quotes which give you “a flavor of the back and forth”:
- K. Michael Conaway, Republican of Texas: “Many of my colleagues have diminished what should be a solemn and grave proceeding into an absolute political circus.”
- Ted Lieu, Democrat of California: “This impeachment is permanent. It will follow him around for the rest of his life and history books will record it. And the people will know why we impeached. It’s all very simple. No one is above the law.”
- Tom McClintock, Republican of California: “This is a stunning abuse of power and a shameless travesty of justice that will stain the reputations of those responsible for generations to come.”
- Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee: “Donald Trump used the high power of the presidency to pressure a foreign nation to besmirch his perceived primary political opponent.”
- Clay Higgins, Republican of Louisiana: “America is being severely injured by this betrayal, by this unjust and weaponized impeachment, brought upon us by the same socialists who threaten unborn life in the womb, who threaten First Amendment rights of conservatives.”
- Hank Johnson, Democrat of Georgia: “If you think I exaggerate in warning that our elections can be undermined, I’d urge you to come down to Georgia, find a black man or woman of a certain age, and they’ll tell you the danger is real.”
- Chris Stewart, Republican of Utah: “This day is about one thing and one thing only. They hate this president. They hate those of us who voted for him. They think we are stupid. They think we made a mistake. They think Hillary Clinton should be the president and they want to fix that.”
- Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York: “I would remind the gentleman if President Trump is impeached and removed, the new president would be Mike Pence, not Hillary Clinton.”
On Wednesday, the White House sent Christmas cards to Democratic senators. Inside was a copy of Trump’s letter to Pelosi. The card was signed by both Trump and Melania, in what looks like red Sharpie.
True story: there is a White House staffer going around the Senate delivering to each office, as a package, the incoherent, scathing Pelosi letter AND…wait for it…a giant 16×12 White House Christmas card (along with, implausibly, a second smaller Christmas card).
What a day. pic.twitter.com/y8gZuQbipl
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) December 18, 2019
If you haven’t read Trump’s letter, we don’t recommend it. It could easily serve as grounds for a restraining order or, if you like, as a justification for the president to be institutionalized.
“You have developed a full-fledged case of what many in the media call Trump Derangement Syndrome and sadly, you will never get over it!”, the president actually wrote, in an official letter to the Speaker of the House.
At one point, while boasting about “our record”, the president cites “Space Force” among his list of achievements. So far off course does Trump veer, that page three finds him maligning the Paris Climate Accord and accusing Democrats of adopting a policy platform centered around “high crime, crippling taxes [and] late-term taxpayer-funded abortion”.
He also claims Robert Mueller “completely failed”, an assessment that makes no sense for a long list of reasons, not the least of which is that, contrary to the White House narrative, the FBI was not “hoping” to discover that Benedict Arnold resides in the Oval Office.
Trump continues, asserting, ludicrously, that “I have been far tougher on Russia than President Obama ever even thought to be”.
If there’s a takeaway from the rambling diatribe (and it isn’t clear there is), it’s that Trump wants America to believe he wasn’t afforded due process, an absurd contention. He was asked, on multiple occasions by Jerry Nadler, if he and/or his counsel wished to participate. He declined each, and every time. Here is a passage that certainly appears to suggest the president is now totally disconnected from reality:
Once I presented the transcribed call, which surprised and shocked the fraudsters… the so-called whistle-blower, and the second whistle-blower, disappeared because they got caught, their report was a fraud, and they were no longer going to be made available to us. Once the phone call was made public, your whole plot blew up, but that didn’t stop you from continuing.
More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.
For the record, none of that is true. And, amusingly, it’s not even clear which part is more ridiculous, the reference to Salem or the idea that the “fraudsters” were “shocked” by the transcript. There is, in fact, a sense in which the witnesses were “shocked” that the White House released an account of the call, but their surprise stemmed entirely from the fact that Trump inexplicably included an exchange that clearly evidences a quid pro quo.
Trump also posits the existence of an “illegal attempted coup” and tells Pelosi that the people “are wise” and “are seeing through this… dangerous game you are playing”.
Again, these could easily pass for the rantings of a paranoid schizophrenic.
The letter, Pelosi went on to assess Tuesday evening, is “really sick”.
In any event, those wondering what to expect can refer to the following helpful, fact-based guide from Reuters.
Here is what will likely happen in the coming days:
Wednesday, Dec. 18
The House will convene at 9 a.m. EST (1400 GMT) and spend an hour debating a rule setting the parameters for a six-hour debate on the articles of impeachment.
At around 11 a.m. EST (1600 GMT), lawmakers will hold a vote on the rules of the debate, which is expected to pass. The vote could possibly be delayed by Republican parliamentary tactics.
After that, the lawmakers are expected to begin debating the articles.
Once the debate ends, probably in late afternoon or early evening, the 431 sitting House legislators will hold separate votes on the two articles of impeachment.
The vote is likely to fall almost entirely along party lines, with support from nearly all of the chamber’s 233 Democrats. All 197 House Republicans are expected to vote no.
If impeachment is approved, the House would select lawmakers known as managers to present the case against Trump at a Senate trial. House Democrats say most of the managers are likely to come from the Judiciary Committee, and possibly from the Intelligence Committee that led the investigation.
Trump would face a trial in the Senate to determine whether he should be convicted and ousted from office. A two-thirds majority of those present in the 100-member chamber would be needed to convict Trump.
U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts would preside over the trial. House managers would present their case against Trump, and the president’s legal team would respond. Senators would act as jurors.