No impeachment…for now

That was a dramatic thing that Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week.

In an interview with the Washington Post magazine, Pelosi said she was not in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump, even if she believed he was not fit to be president.

In fact, she only reiterated what she said late last year after the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives.

Impeaching Mr. Trump, she said, would be divisive. She did not add that any such proceeding would likely fail in the Senate anyway, so it would just be a waste of time.

The Speaker added that despite the president’s serious shortcomings, “he isn’t worth it.”

Those are fighting words, and Mr. Trump was probably seething when he first became aware at the potshot the Speaker had thrown his way. He would have been much happier if Pelosi had just said that she was not in favor of impeaching the president. Period.

What she really said without mouthing the words is that she is not in favor of impeaching Mr. Trump at this present time. Her attitude may change dramatically depending on the results of the Mueller investigation.

If, and only if, that probe concludes that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, then everything changes.

Remember what Rudy Giuliani said that collusion per se was not a crime? He may be right. But what is a crime is working with a hostile foreign government to influence US elections, and if this is what the special counsel says happened, then there will be no option but to impeach the president.

The Republicans may not like it. Some of them may even opt to stick it out with Mr. Trump if his guilt is established. But we can be certain that there are a good many elected lawmakers in the GOP who will know what to do when the time comes.

It all depends on whether Robert Mueller delivers the “compelling and overwhelming” evidence that Pelosi seeks before she agrees to take that most drastic of all political actions, removing a sitting president via impeachment.

Everybody seems to agree that the Mueller report is just about ready to be released, if it hasn’t already found its way to the office of Attorney General William Barr.

Perhaps Pelosi wants Mr. Trump to remain in office in order to continue failing as chief executive. Two more years as president and Mr. Trump will almost certainly reach a level of unpopularity that any Democratic Party candidate who faces him in the 2020 elections will wipe him out.

It could be a landslide of epic proportions that the Republican Party may not recover from for decades, if at all.

In recent times, President Bill Clinton was impeached but he survived the Senate vote. On the other hand, President Richard Nixon was almost certain to be impeached and the Senate back then would have voted him out of office if he had not resigned.

Donald Trump may follow either one of the two scenarios. He may be impeached by the House but survive the Senate gauntlet. Or he may be forced to resign.

In his mind, however, there is a third scenario. He will be reelected as president in 2020.

No one knows for sure what happens next.