US President Donald Trump and US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi do not see eye-to-eye on much these days, but in the throes of impeachment, they are in lockstep on the desire to close out the year by checking off items on their to-do lists.
As the uncertain politics of the effort to remove Trump from office collide with critical year-end legislative deadlines, Washington, for the first time in recent memory, appears intent on demonstrating its capacity to multitask. Lawmakers and White House officials are eager to project the image that they have been focused on anything but the polarizing proceedings that are increasingly consuming their days and nights.
Even Trump, no stranger to unpredictability and drama, could only marvel at the week of Washington whiplash.
“This has been a wild week,” he said on Friday morning as he hosted the president of Paraguay in the Oval Office.
On Friday, as the House Judiciary Committee was passing articles of impeachment against the president, Trump had counter-programming at the ready, announcing new progress on long-delayed negotiations with China to tame an 18-month trade dispute.
“Take note @SpeakerPelosi - this is what real leadership looks like,” tweeted White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, highlighting the “phase-one” deal.
It was far from the first split-screen moment of the week.
In the span of one hour on Tuesday, Pelosi held a news conference to announce articles of impeachment against the president — then swiftly walked down the hall to announce a bipartisan deal to fulfill the president’s top legislative priority of the year, the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on trade.
A day later, as the House Judiciary Committee took up the impeachment articles, the full House passed a compromise defense spending bill that would provide federal employees with 12 weeks of paid parental leave, a priority of the president’s daughter. The bill also would bring Trump’s long-promised Space Force to life.
The incongruous moments reflect the unease on all sides in Washington about how the polarizing impeachment process will play out politically and the fact that many voters across the country do not view impeachment as a high priority. So Democrats and the White House are going all-out to show that they can do their day jobs amid the impeachment drama on TV.
Washington is set for more of those moments next week, with the anticipated party-line impeachment vote on Wednesday sandwiched between Tuesday’s expected passage of a budget bill and Thursday’s thumbs-up for the USMCA.
For Pelosi, the decision to give the president those victories appeared aimed at trying to protect her caucus against charges — featured prominently in Republican adverts aimed at vulnerable Democrats — that their focus on impeachment has distracted from the bread-and-butter issues that voters care about. Democrats maintain that the issues they have made progress on are long-held priorities, like the new parental-leave policy for federal employees, and stronger labor and environmental protections in the USMCA.
“It’s not a coincidence that the USMCA agreement was announced the same morning that the articles of impeachment were introduced,” said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist and partner at Firehouse Strategies, which has been polling how impeachment is playing in crucial battleground states. “I think congressional Democrats in swing districts want to be able to show their constituents that they’ve done more than just impeach the president.”
Conant said he expects to see a concerted effort by moderate Democrats to find areas where they can work with Trump, even while they are impeaching him.
“It’s counterintuitive, but impeachment may actually help the president’s legislative agenda,” he said.
Pelosi tied the flurry of legislative activity amid impeachment to the calendar, telling reporters: “It’s just that as we get to the end of a session, there have to be some decisions made. The timetable for impeachment is the timetable of the committees and that came to an end with a hearing yesterday.”
The spurt of bipartisan legislating has not necessarily led to any cooling of political tempers.
At the White House, Trump aides highlighted what they called a “week of action,” aiming to use it as a cudgel against Democrats whom they have accused of doing nothing besides impeachment. Trump’s campaign is already planning to include the developments in new ads promoting the president making good on his 2016 campaign promises while Democrats seek his removal.
“One can make the argument that President Trump has had the best seven-day run of his presidency despite having two articles of impeachment dropped on him, and that is nothing short of remarkable,” said Jason Miller, who served as communications director of Trump’s 2016 campaign.
“As we have said since the do-nothing Democrats started this kangaroo court, President Donald J. Trump remains focused on the work of the American people, and this week’s unprecedented accomplishments prove that,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said.
Conant said the White House was intent on making the argument that “you shouldn’t impeach a president who is doing a good job.”
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete