Nancy Pelosi is ready for this fight

Nancy Pelosi is ready for this fight
© Greg Nash

Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTeachers union launches 0K ad buy calling for education funding in relief bill No signs of breakthrough for stalemated coronavirus talks Governors air frustrations with Trump on unemployment plans MORE (D-Calif.), Speaker of The United States House of Representatives, was made for this moment. With a congressional career spanning 32 years, Speaker Pelosi is poised to lead her caucus through uncertain impeachment waters during the coming months.

This past week, I joined former U.S. Rep. Jack KingstonJohon (Jack) Heddens KingstonLobbying firm cuts ties to Trent Lott amid national anti-racism protests Thankfully, the doctor is in Ex-Trump campaign adviser: Biden would be able to 'sit down and get some things done' with Republicans MORE (R-Ga.) for Bloomberg’s Sound On hosted by Kevin Cirilli and reacted, in real time, to the breaking news of Speaker Pelosi’s press conference announcing impeachment proceedings in the House. During the conversation, we often returned to the similarities and differences related to the Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonBiden painted into a basement 'Rose Garden strategy' corner Giuliani says Black Lives Matter is 'domestic terrorist' group We have the resources to get through this crisis, only stupidity is holding us back MORE impeachment saga in the late 90’s. Kingston was a member of the House during that time and was a leading conservative voice advocating for the impeachment and removal of President Clinton.

Today, just 56 of Kingston’s former colleagues during the Clinton impeachment proceedings remain in Congress — 42 Democrats and 14 Republicans. The three top Democrats, Speaker Pelosi (first elected in 1987) and Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse will be out of session for additional week in September The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS MORE (D-Md.) and Majority Whip Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos ClyburnMaxine Waters expresses confidence Biden will pick Black woman as VP Kanye West 'not denying' his campaign seeks to damage Biden Clyburn: 'No question' Kanye West effort is attempt to take votes from Biden MORE (D-S.C.) are among those 42 Democrats. So are the current chairs of five key Congressional committees involved in the current impeachment crisis: Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: Esper confirms plans to drop below 5,000 troops in Afghanistan | State Department says it's cleared of wrongdoing in emergency arms sales before investigation's release State says it will be cleared by watchdog report US 'deeply concerned' over election in Belarus MORE (D-N.Y.); Ways and Means Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealZaid Jilani on the allegations against Holyoke's mayor at UMass-Amherst Democratic House candidate to stay in race amid allegations of inappropriate relations with college students Trump puts trade back on 2020 agenda MORE (D-Mass.); Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersMaxine Waters expresses confidence Biden will pick Black woman as VP Bill from Warren, Gillibrand and Waters would make Fed fight economic racial inequalities Waters rips Trump, GOP over mail-in ballots: 'They'll lie, cheat and steal to stay in power' MORE (D-Calif.); Judiciary Chairman Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBy questioning Barr, Democrats unmasked their policy of betrayal Chris Wallace: Barr hearing 'an embarrassment' for Democrats: 'Just wanted to excoriate him' Apple posts blowout third quarter MORE (D-N.Y.); and Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBill Maher delivers mock eulogy for Trump The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden comes to Washington to honor John Lewis Lawmakers set for tearful goodbye to John Lewis MORE (D-Md.). The sixth key House Committee, Intelligence, is headed by Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package House Intelligence panel opens probe into DHS's involvement in response to protests MORE (D-Calif.) who took office in 2001.

ADVERTISEMENT

No current member of the House GOP leadership served during the Clinton administration.

Only Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyOn The Money: Five takeaways from the July jobs report Stimulus checks debate now focuses on size, eligibility Pelosi huddles with chairmen on surprise billing but deal elusive MORE (R-Texas), who was in office in the 90’s, serves as a Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee — one of the six key committees identified in Pelosi’s press conference.

What all of this means is that Democrats have a strong advantage when it comes to impeachment experience, having so many more members, especially in leadership, who were around for the last impeachment effort.

This experience from the 90’s could be one of the critical reasons Speaker Pelosi was more hesitant to move forward with a formal impeachment proceeding than many of her Democratic colleagues. Pelosi had seen firsthand what happened to Republicans at the ballot box during the 1998 midterms, when the Democrats picked up five seats in the House. Then-House Speaker Newt GingrichNewton (Newt) Leroy GingrichMORE had assured his members that the GOP caucus was likely to pick up 30 seats in the midterms. Gingrich’s miscalculation on public sentiment led to his eventual ouster from leadership and resignation from the House following the electoral drubbing.

Indeed, as Chris Smith notes in Vanity Fair, Pelosi “had thrown cold water on calls for impeachment for more than two years… based on… a belief that her party’s nominee has a good shot at beating Trump in 2020, and the need to protect congressional Democrats who are vulnerable to defeat in swing districts.”

ADVERTISEMENT

In a brand new Business Insider poll released Thursday morning, 45 percent of respondents supported impeachment, with 29 percent indicating that they strongly supported it; 30 percent of respondents opposed impeachment, with an additional 25 percent unsure or unaware of what impeachment is. According to the report, “the poll was conducted Wednesday and Thursday, after Pelosi’s announcement but as the news was still developing.”

If the Business Insider poll is an accurate snapshot following the transcript’s release, that would demonstrate an eight percent increase in public support from a Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this week that indicated public support for impeachment at 37 percent.

Any hopes held by the president or Trump administration officials that the release of the abbreviated call transcript would quell talk of impeachment have been dashed. According to CNN, “top Democrats have concluded it showed clear evidence of [Trump] pressuring a foreign leader for political advantage.”

Despite the Mueller Probe’s numerous citations involving potential obstruction of justice violations committed by Trump, the lengthy report was cumbersome and confusing to many Americans. New charges involving this whistleblower report and the transcript, according to Pelosi, “is the most understandable by the public.”

In the same interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg this past week, the speaker went on to say, “public sentiment is everything,” and quoted Abraham Lincoln as saying, “with it, you can accomplish practically anything. Without it, practically nothing.”

As one of the few Members of Congress in office during the Clinton impeachment, Pelosi and her chief lieutenants know all too well just how important public sentiment is for rallying members and the general public to their cause. I wouldn’t bet against her or them as this process plays out.

Kevin Walling (@kpwalling) is a Democratic strategist, Vice President at HGCreative, co-founder of Celtic Strategies, and a regular guest on Fox News and Fox Business.