Nancy Pelosi is ready for this fight

Nancy Pelosi is ready for this fight
© Greg Nash

Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCummings to lie in state at the Capitol House Republicans 'demand the release of the rules' on impeachment Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union —Dem wants more changes to Pelosi drug pricing bill | Ebola outbreak wanes, but funding lags | Johnson & Johnson recalls batch of baby powder after asbestos traces found 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 KingstonNancy Pelosi is ready for this fight 5 Republicans who could replace Isakson in Georgia's Senate race Why don't we pay congressional salary based on results? 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 ClintonHouse Democrats risk overriding fairness factor on impeachment Senate GOP braces for impeachment trial 'roller coaster' What did the Founders most fear about impeachment? 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 Republicans 'demand the release of the rules' on impeachment Scalise, Cole introduce resolution to change rules on impeachment Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg defends handling of misinformation in political ads | Biden camp hits Zuckerberg over remarks | Dem bill would jail tech execs for lying about privacy | Consumer safety agency accidentally disclosed personal data MORE (D-Md.) and Majority Whip Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos ClyburnPelosi calls Cummings 'our North Star' as Democratic leaders mourn his death Democrats gauge support for vote on impeachment inquiry Nancy Pelosi is ready for this fight 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 EngelHouse Republicans 'demand the release of the rules' on impeachment Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Trump insists Turkey wants cease-fire | Fighting continues in Syrian town | Pentagon chief headed to Mideast | Mattis responds to criticism from Trump Testimony from GOP diplomat complicates Trump defense MORE (D-N.Y.); Ways and Means Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealBusiness groups keep pressure for trade deal amid impeachment fight Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — House Dems change drug pricing bill to address progressive concerns | Top Republican rejects Dem proposal on surprise medical bills | Vaping group launches Fox News ad blitz Top Republican rejects Democratic chairman's approach to stopping surprise medical bills MORE (D-Mass.); Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersHillicon Valley: FCC approves T-Mobile-Sprint merger | Dems wrangle over breaking up Big Tech at debate | Critics pounce as Facebook's Libra stumbles | Zuckerberg to be interviewed by Fox News | Twitter details rules for political figures' tweets On The Money: Tax, loan documents for Trump properties reportedly showed inconsistencies | Tensions flare as Dems hammer Trump consumer chief | Critics pounce as Facebook crypto project stumbles Zuckerberg meets with Waters ahead of congressional testimony MORE (D-Calif.); Judiciary Chairman Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDem committee chairs blast Trump G-7 announcement Top Democrat holds moment of silence for Cummings at hearing Barr to speak at Notre Dame law school on Friday MORE (D-N.Y.); and Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBaltimore mayor looks to rename downtown courthouse after Cummings Cummings to lie in state at the Capitol Gowdy remembers political opponent, good friend Elijah Cummings MORE (D-Md.). The sixth key House Committee, Intelligence, is headed by Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse Republicans 'demand the release of the rules' on impeachment Kasich says he'd back impeachment The Hill's 12:30 Report: White House does damage control after Mulvaney remarks MORE (D-Calif.) who took office in 2001.


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

Only Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — House Dems change drug pricing bill to address progressive concerns | Top Republican rejects Dem proposal on surprise medical bills | Vaping group launches Fox News ad blitz Top Republican rejects Democratic chairman's approach to stopping surprise medical bills America's workers and small business owners need the SECURE Act 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.”


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.