WASHINGTON, DC – For the House progressives: a pair of impeachment articles against President Donald Trump. For the vulnerable Democratic freshmen: charges that are narrowly focused on Ukraine. And for the whole House Democratic majority — and, however backhandedly, Trump himself: a sweeping new trade deal.
In the span of 90 minutes Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled historic legislation in back-to-back press conferences designed to keep her restive Democratic caucus unified long enough to impeach the nation's 45th president. The double shot reflected her “two-track” strategy of legislating while investigating, and the recognition that Americans want Democrats to deliver on pocketbook matters like trade and health care.
“Great!” the president tweeted of the trade accord, even as he denounced the impeachment drive.
But the approach also allowed Pelosi, in her second turn as speaker, to undercut the president's claim that she is incapable of passing trade legislation because she's out to get him.
“We ate their lunch — oh, excuse me,” she told Democrats behind closed doors.
In some ways, the moment was the bookend to Pelosi's face-to-face clap-and-smirk at Trump's State of the Union speech Feb. 5, an address she only allowed because he had retreated in a funding fight and reopened the government.
This time, too, Pelosi gave the president something he could see as validating — the House's version of his U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, updating the original North American Free Trade Agreement. Meanwhile, she delivered the smackdown of the charges, putting Trump on track to become only the third impeached president in history.
“The day is young," she observed during her second press conference.