Donald Trump’s slo-mo strategy to derail impeachment

House Democrats may have the votes to impeach. The party’s base is cheering them on. But if Trump can put the inquiry on slo-mo, that strategy could backfire.

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President Donald Trump in 2018.

President Donald Trump is trying to drive the impeachment query into slow motion.

AP file photo

Take it slow, baby. 

That sentiment may not show up in a Donald J. Trump tweet. But his White House is singing that song as the Democrats drive toward impeachment.

Going slow on impeachment might seem counter intuitive from the GOP perspective. President Trump is up for reelection in just under 11 months. Why would he want to prolong an impeachment fight in the middle of a reelection campaign?

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Yet the Trump administration plans to write U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to demand she seek a full vote for the U.S. House of Representatives to approve a formal impeachment inquiry.

“We’ll be issuing a letter,” Trump told reporters Friday morning on the White House lawn. “As everybody knows, we’ve been treated very unfairly, very different from anybody else.”

Without a full House vote to approve the inquiry, White House lawyers believe “Trump can ignore lawmakers’ requests” for information and witnesses, a source told Reuters.

In that case, “the federal courts would presumably have to render a decision and potentially slow the march toward impeachment,” the news agency reported.

Drag it out. That’s Trump’s strategy. 

Pelosi aims to call an impeachment vote well before the presidential nominating primaries and caucuses commence in early 2020, and Democrat-led congressional committees already have dispatched a flurry of letters, subpoenas and schedules. 

“We’re not fooling around here,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters. “We don’t want this to drag on months and months and months, which appears to be the administration’s strategy.”

House Democrats may have the votes to impeach, and the party’s base is cheering them on. If Trump can put the inquiry on slo-mo, Pelosi’s strategy could backfire. 

Trump and his allies will argue, for example, that the Democrats’ call for information and testimony from presidential counselor Rudy Giuliani is a violation of attorney-client privilege.

And U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will claim the Democrats’ requests for information on American intelligence and Trump’s dealings with foreign leaders is classified. 

It’s all aimed at pushing these battles into the courts. Lawsuits would bog down the congressional inquiry. Trump would love to take his case all the way up to his good friends in the Supreme Court. He thinks he owns it.

And the president is in his political prime when he’s in battle. Back in 2012, Trump famously tweeted: “When someone attacks me, I always attack back ... except 100x more.”

By dragging it out, Trump gets endless opportunities to whip up his adoring supporters, play the victim and trot out sycophantic defenders to incessantly declare “witch hunt” across the cable airwaves.

A protracted impeachment battle is sure to wear down voters who are already weary of the hyper-partisan warfare that personifies the Washington swamp.

It’s also a dangerous distraction. The Democrats are in the middle of an unprecedented, 19-way race for their presidential nomination. In the last couple of weeks, that race has been obliterated by the media frenzy of impeachment headlines, talking heads, rumors, charges and counter charges.

The Democrats’ 2020 contests will be buried in the Sturm und Drang of impeachment.

Voters will hear about every twist and turn of Ukrainian politics and the “corruption” of former Vice President Joe Biden. They will hear little about health care, infrastructure, immigration rights, gun control and the myriad other causes that will help Democrats take back the White House.

It could be a slow-motion disaster. 

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