President Donald J. Trump shakes hands with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before delivering his State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 5, 2019. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)
President Donald J. Trump shakes hands with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before delivering his State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 5, 2019. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Is Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi standing in the way of a potential impeachment of President Donald Trump?

Reports indicate that there are strong signs that the pro-impeachment forces in the House are larger than what Pelosi portrays — and growing.

That is, there’s a lot of iceberg under the surface, according to NBC News.

Since special counsel Robert Mueller spoke publicly for the first time about his finding that he could not exonerate the president, the number of House members calling for either the start to an official inquiry or an outright impeachment vote on Trump has grown to 52, according to a list maintained by NBC News.

That includes several committee chairs, several members of the Judiciary Committee — which would consider possible articles of impeachment first — lawmakers from safe districts and swing districts, and one Republican, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, the network reported.

Still, not all citizens are onboard — even those who said they can’t wait until Trump leaves office.

“At this point in time, impeachment is a terrible idea and could potentially play into President Trump’s own narrative — victimizers sometimes play the role of the victim in order to justify their own abusive behavior, reframe perceptions, establish false equivalence, energize advantageous divisions and intensify or gain support,” said David Pring-Mill, a consultant to startups, NGOs and political causes.

“The president took advantage of shortcuts in human psychology,” Pring-Mill said. “He used demagoguery to rile up the voters who could get him elected. But that shortcut became a long cut. His statements on race, Muslim bans, immigrants and international relations have compromised his moral authority and severely impaired his ability to execute on an agenda and, instead of accepting some responsibility for disparaging others, he fires people ‘Apprentice’-style and claims that he has been disparaged.”

Matt C. Pinsker, an adjunct professor in the Homeland Security & Criminal Justice Department at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University, said he’s read Mueller’s report and the evidence is insufficient to charge, let alone convict, the president of collusion or obstruction of justice.

“It would be legal malpractice and grounds to bring a criminal charge,” said Pinsker, a former federal prosecutor who teaches criminal justice at VCU. “The reason why impeachment is talked about is simply for political reasons. Unlike the criminal justice system which requires a burden of proof and due process, impeachment is a political maneuver and there is no such thing as ‘malpractice’ for Congress.”

Steven Isaac Azizi, a senior partner at Miracle Mile Law Group, said the Democratic majority in Congress is hesitant to impeach Trump for a couple reasons.

“I believe the foremost reason is that Congress is rejecting the idea is due to the sheer reputational damage it would instill in the international world’s eyes,” Azizi said. “Another may be the ignition of pro-Trump supporters. These are without a doubt the cons of any potential impeachment.”

The attorney also speculated that a potential plus to a Trump impeachment would be the riddance of the rhetoric that he brings along with him.

“In any event, impeachment would be accompanied by severe consequences that would reverberate around the whole world,” Azizi said.

Pelosi has argued, to great effect with her caucus, that there are significant risks in rushing toward impeachment when the public isn’t supportive of the move and it would take 20 Republican votes in the Senate to oust the president, NBC News reported.

Part of the Democratic strategy is rooted in concern that forcing an impeachment showdown, especially one that fails to result in Trump’s removal from office, would benefit the president politically. Never mind the prospect — more unlikely than it is conceivable — that he could be impeached, removed from office and reelected.

But Pelosi has also said the House should not choose to impeach or avoid impeachment based on political considerations.

Mueller found that he could not exonerate the president and has now given a near-equivalent of public testimony to that conclusion. So it stands to reason that the longer Democrats wait to start a formal process, the more it will look like they are not confident the Mueller report includes evidence of possible high crimes and misdemeanors, according to an NBC News analyst.

Perhaps most Democrats will reach that conclusion, if they haven’t already.

“The 2020 election is fast approaching,” Pring-Mill said. “If Americans feel that Trump needs to be prosecuted, they should support Kamala Harris in the primaries and caucuses. [Prosecuting crimes] is what she does best.”

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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