Not So Magnificent Seven
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named the seven managers of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump this morning. They are as follows: Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), and Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX). Full remarks below.
The most notable fact about this recycled group of congresspeople: six of the seven supported Trump’s impeachment before any of Eric Ciaramella’s whistleblower charges were brought against him. Empirically, they dislike the president deeply, and beyond any evidentiary basis.
Pelosi opened by rattling off historical quotes in her uniquely stunted style. Next, she offered a glimpse of one reason she made her long-awaited announcement today. New stuff has come to light, man. A trove of correspondence: an 85-page bundle of texts and handwritten notes authored by Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas.
The documents reveal that Parnas knew of the firing of lifelong diplomat Marie Yovanovitch one day prior to the official announcement. That makes sense as he could have easily overheard as much. Regardless, Yovanovitch serves at the pleasure of the president. There’s nothing sacrosanct about her walking papers.
Another communication seems to convey that Giuliani was in Ukraine at the direction of Trump, not merely to seek information on the Burisma scandal, but it’s inferential at best. Parnas also appears to have been involved with dealings of his own in Ukraine, he and his associates have pleaded not guilty to charges brought against them.
Not exactly earthshaking news. If this was truly germane to impeachment, and not the sideshow of accusations against Giuliani and his associates, it would have come up already. Pelosi is trying to tar Trump with Parnas’ overseas dealings that have nothing to do with impeachment, likely in exchange for leniency.
Trump stated in November that he didn’t know Parnas. Tellingly, it was this disavowal that upset Parnas enough to turn in evidence and seek to testify against the president.
Why Did Pelosi Move Forward Today? Three Reasons
The other reason to announce managers today is the historic signing of Phase I of the U.S.-China trade deal. The trade deal is, of course, a big win for Trump. Pelosi, tired of continuing trends of positive economic data and trade, couldn’t waste another news cycle to move her stalled impeachment forward.
Finally, Pelosi was aware that she was on clean-up duty. Another lackluster Democratic debate was sure to dominate headlines today if she didn’t announce her impeachment managers. And she was correct: until she stepped up to the dais this morning, frontrunner Joe Biden was pilloried by the press for his incoherence.
A new rift between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren played out on the stage post-debate when Warren left Bernie hanging, his proffered handshake unmet. Bad optics abounded. Add to this the background hum of the latest “Project Veritas” release, in which a Sanders staffer espouses Bolshevik-level views, and it’s clear that Pelosi had to pull the trigger.
Pelosi Steals Underhanded Schiff Tactic
The best thing to do when you’re out of arguments? Just misquote your opponent. Adam Schiff tried this gambit when he read an imagined simulacrum of the famous July 15 telephone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky, substituting phrases of his own making for the actual quoted substance of the call.
Pelosi can play that game as well. During the official naming of the impeachment managers on the House floor this afternoon–she wanted to drag out the news cycle as long as possible–she changed gears. The new recipe: less formal, more snarky. And downright dishonest. Crucially, she replaced Trump’s “do us a favor” with “do me a favor”. If it sounds like a small distinction, watch the tweet clip below.
As Trump has argued, he was speaking, as presidents do, of “us” representing the country. Pelosi knew as much. Her verbal parlor tricks demonstrate the degree of cynicism in this sham process.