The New York Post notes that right out of the blue, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited President Donald Trump to deliver the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on February 4, 2020. The president has graciously accepted the invitation.
The story notes that the invitation has come amid the impeachment imbroglio. The House, at the behest of Pelosi, has not only voted to impeach President Trump on party lines, but the speaker has delayed sending the articles to the Senate so that the trial can begin. Naturally, the chattering class has asked on social media and the regular kind, what game is Nancy Pelosi playing?
Pelosi has not been shy of using the State of the Union for partisan political purposes in the past. Last year, she delayed the invitation until after the government shutdown over the budget had been resolved. The move was seen as an attempt to apply pressure to the administration to cave on certain points that the then-new House Democratic majority was advancing.
Analysts have proposed two scenarios surrounding the 2020 State of the Union address.
The first suggests that Pelosi will soon cave on sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate. She is delaying them in a politically and constitutionally dubious maneuver to force the Senate to conduct a “fair trial.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pointed out that the Senate alone determines the rules of an impeachment trial. McConnell is on record as wanting the entire thing disposed of as quickly as possible so that Congress can return to regular business. Media analysts have even suggested that if Pelosi persists in withholding the articles, the Senate may meet to offer a summary judgment that the president is innocent of all charges.
This scenario suggests that the speaker is offering the president an olive branch, conceding that Trump is not going to be removed from office and that he can respond as he likes in a SOTU speech that takes place after impeachment is over,
Hot Air suggests a second scenario, one in which Pelosi is trolling the president, holding out the possibility of a State of the Union speech taking place while an impeachment trial is still ongoing.
“Imagine that McConnell and Pelosi continue to wrangle over impeachment during the first few weeks of January, finally reach some sort of accommodation at the end of the month, and the trial is in session on February 4.
“The Senate could spend the afternoon litigating whether Trump should be removed from office, then walk across the Capitol to the House and hear the president lambaste Democrats for an hour with Pelosi sitting right behind him.”
Hot Air goes on to suggest that this scenario is unlikely. Polling suggests that support for impeachment and the Democrats who are pushing it is in freefall. In the meantime, support for the president is inching upwards. It is in Pelosi’s best interest to end the charade as soon as possible and get on to other issues. That fact is recognized by Trump and McConnell as well.
“Trump and McConnell will want to have the trial over before February 4 so that Trump can walk into the House and claim vindication with Pelosi sitting right behind him. Which makes me wonder: Is … that why Pelosi’s holding the articles of impeachment? I’ve been searching for the logic in that with no luck, but maybe the plan is to humiliate Trump by holding the articles until after the SOTU so that he has to give the speech without having been acquitted yet. I doubt McConnell would allow that, though; if Pelosi hasn’t moved by mid-January, he’ll start considering procedural gimmicks that would justify the Senate taking up the matter before the articles are delivered.“
Needless to say, senators who are running for president such as Sanders and Warren will want impeachment gone, the sooner the better. They do not want to be trapped in a senate impeachment trial while the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire primary draws nigh.
Hot Air would prefer that the State of the Union speech be dispensed with entirely and replaced with a written report. That decision will remove the lame laundry lists of policies and accomplishments, the pomposity, and the virtue signaling from the audience.
However, President Trump has already accepted the invitation. He plans to claim vindication while Pelosi, seated over his left shoulder, is forced to look on.