“That’s exactly what I feel, I think we’ve already begun it,” Clyburn told Tapper, adding that Trump would be impeached “at some point.”
The impeachment boulder seemed to be rolling down the hill. Then Pelosi held a private meeting of her leadership team on Monday night. And Clyburn immediately changed his tune.
“I’m probably farther away from impeachment than anybody in our caucus,” Clyburn said Monday night. “We will not get out in front of our committees. We’ll see what the committees come up with. I’ve said that forever.”
Look, a politician getting too far out over his skis and then adjusting after realizing it is as old as politics itself. But what is noteworthy here is how quickly Clyburn changed his tune — and how he did so immediately after sitting down with Pelosi and the rest of the party leadership.
What that flip-flop makes clear is that Pelosi is still firmly in charge of her caucus and its approach to the allegations of obstruction against Trump — and the broader investigations into the President’s administration.
Yes, you now have 59 Democrats calling for Trump’s impeachment (or at least the start of an impeachment inquiry). But that group makes up only one-quarter of the 235 total Democrats in the party’s majority. That doesn’t mean the number isn’t significant, but it does means that it’s still a (relatively) small chunk of the Democratic caucus.
And it’s important to look at WHO those 59 people are (and who they aren’t). The 59 are, by and large, the most liberal members of Congress — most of whom represent districts where impeachment is already very popular. Pelosi knows she is never going to stop, say, New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or California’s Maxine Waters from pushing for impeachment. So she doesn’t spend time trying.
Take a look, though, at the people Pelosi HAS clearly leaned on to keep them away from calling for impeachment.
“I think we’re going to do what’s right for the country, and at this point, the speaker hasn’t reached the conclusion and I haven’t had either. It’s not best for the country to put us through an impeachment proceeding that’s destined for a failure in the Senate. That calculus may change if the President continues to demonstrate his unfitness for office.”
Look: Pelosi didn’t become the first female speaker of the House (and then reclaim that title eight years after losing it) by not being able to understand which way the political wind is blowing. Her position on impeachment — against it — is a fungible thing, depending on what else (if anything) comes to light regarding Trump and allegations of obstruction of justice.
But to paint Pelosi as losing control of her caucus on impeachment is to misunderstand what the speaker is doing here and how much control she retains. Unless and until you see major cracks among the party’s leadership in the House, Pelosi is still very much in charge.