Wednesday was an encouraging day for Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, who is facing a growing insurrection from Democratic representatives who are demanding the immediate impeachment of Donald Trump. At a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus, Pelosi secured support, at least for now, for her policy of allowing various existing congressional inquiries to proceed in the face of the Trump Administration’s stonewalling. Afterward, she told reporters, “We do believe that it’s important to follow the facts. We believe that no one is above the law . . . and we believe the President of the United States is engaged in a coverup.”
Shortly after that, Pelosi took a trip to the White House, where she and some colleagues had scheduled a meeting with Trump about infrastructure spending. It didn’t last long. According to an account from the Wall Street Journal, Trump complained to his guests that Speaker Pelosi had “said something terrible today” and announced that the talks were off. Then he stomped out to the Rose Garden, where he told the hastily assembled White House press corps that he would no longer coöperate with Democrats on infrastructure or anything else. “I don’t do coverups,” Trump fumed. “Get these phony investigations over with.”
A bit later, Pelosi held her own press conference, with Chuck Schumer and other Democrats who attended the White House meeting. After citing the successful infrastructure projects of two earlier Republican Presidents—Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt—and saying that she and her colleagues had been prepared to give Trump the opportunity to have his own “signature infrastructure initiative,” Pelosi declined to characterize what had happened at the White House beyond saying that the President “took a pass.” Then she concluded, “In any event, I pray for the President of the United States and I pray for the United States of America.”
It was a perfectly tuned sign-off. Anger seldom works against Trump; he owns the currency and can always issue more of it. In addressing the rogue President directly, or speaking about him in the third person, Pelosi usually adopts a tone that is more sorrowful than angry, while firmly reminding everyone—Trump included—that Congress is a coequal branch of government that won’t be run roughshod over. It is a measured strategy that worked during the lengthy standoff over Trump’s border-wall proposal. (The White House eventually capitulated.) And Pelosi has reasons to believe it is still working, despite the pressure she is facing.
According to the Washington Post, about twenty-five House Democrats have called for the opening of an impeachment inquiry. They and many other members of the majority caucus are understandably aggrieved at Trump’s refusal to respect the division of powers laid down in the Constitution. They are also reacting to the anger of many Democratic activists and supporters, who want to hold the President accountable for his obstruction of the Mueller probe, his racism, his corruption, his boorishness, and his assault on practically everything they hold dear.