CAPITOL HILL – John Coltrane was unearthed. Coltrane recorded the tracks in 1963. The album is titled "Both Directions at Once."
The name of Coltrane's work epitomizes what Democrats are trying to do with impeachment right now – and everything else on Capitol Hill. Go both directions at once.
After all, Democrats dove headfirst into the impeachment inquiry surrounding President Trump this week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Was released in late September for a weekslong recess in Washington, DC.
When lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill last Tuesday afternoon, impeachment truly got real. Most members started pouring into the Capitol after 4 p.m. ET Tuesday. Pelosi conducts a series of leadership meetings. Democrats usually hold their weekly caucus meeting for 6pm.
Democrats usually hold their weekly caucus meeting the next morning.
Reporters so flooded the Capitol last Tuesday afternoon, knowing impeachment was "getting real" as lawmakers returned to Washington. The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees has been through several days of closed-door interviews with witnesses over the recess, but it's all together different with all the lawmakers back in town. What had their constituents been told about impeachment? What's the right thing to do? Were Democrats playing this wrong? Will Republicans break with the president?
Pelosi led an afternoon news conference with House Education & Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott, D-Va., About college affordability. Naturally, a few reporters peppered Pelosi with questions about impeachment, not tuition costs. One question centered on why the speaker would not call on the floor to formalize the impeachment sample.
During the news conference with Scott, Pelosi suggested she might say something about a formal vote after meeting with her leadership team and caucus.
The Capitol buzzed.
But when various members of Pelosi's Inner circle left the leadership suite a couple of hours later, they did not say they would vote.
"If that's what she's planning," one Democrat said, "She's holding her cards really close. "
That's when Pelosi's staff announced a rare evening news conference. "6:30" what the prospective time, but insiders suggested it would really start closer to 7pm. with roll-call votes on the floor and the full caucus huddling. Surely the speaker had a big announcement about impeachment to summon reporters to the House studio at that hour.
Republicans have demanded a vote for weeks. It was not long ago that they were planned to do a roll-call tally against Democrats representing swing districts. A vote to establish the parameters of the impeachment inquiry by the full house ̵
But, the idea of a vote on the impeachment may have evolved. The Trump administration has not been cooperating with the Democrats' impeachment investigation without a vote. So, one wondered if Pelosi could take them up on that dare. The administration would not have to be on the house approved. President Trump's defenders in Congress have spent most of their time arguing about the process. They want process? Well, Democrats could well give them "process."
"I'm not open to that," said Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., When asked about such a vote.
But, on the other hand, a vote on the parameters of the inquiry could flip on Republicans. For some House Republicans from Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Nevada and Michigan, a vote for impeachment inquiry could be problematic. If those swing district Republicans vote against the inquiry, Democrats may well have the vote against the GOP. Moreover, if any Republicans vote with the Democrats for "an inquiry," each likely to face a Trump-matched challenger. That's to say nothing of drawing the ire of the president himself. If vulnerable Republicans oppose launching the investigation, they could face trouble in the general election.
TRUMP SAYS PELOSI SHOULD INVESTIGATE OBAMA'S SYRIA RED LINE, SHIP SHOULD BE 'DEPOSED'
But there's no such vote.
As reporters waited in the House studio, word filtered in that Pelosi would not call for a formalize the impeachment process. House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
Pelosi's press event started at 7 p.m. -Initially sans ship. And, instead of updating reporters on impeachment, Pelosi spoke about a myriad of other subjects: efforts to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, the college tuition legislation, the us mexico-canada agreement, firearms, sanctions against turkey. The speaker barely said anything about impeachment until ship arrived.
Only, it would not be Pelosi addressing impeachment. Pelosi would yield to ship.
What happened next was remarkable.
Actions speak louder than words. Pelosi then walked off the dais, leaving ship at the lectern. Pelosi took a seat in the front row of the Radio / TV Gallery Studio, amid the reporters, to listen to ship. All they have read is a notebook and a tape recorder.
Pelosi's decision to defer to ship. It was almost to indicate that impeachment was under ship's silo, and his only. Congressional leaders have a great deal of power for their committees. Perhaps the speaker was distancing itself from impeachment, or that the house would conduct its impeachment investigation and simultaneously work on other legislation. A skeptic might have seen Pelosi's decision to sit in the front row as a way to divorce herself from the impeachment inquiry, or say, "Adam, it's all on you. Do not screw this up. "
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That's the Narrow Path Democrats Must Now Walk – Balancing Impeachment with Education, Trade, Guns and Medicine. But, impeachment has seemed to consume almost every headline, every conversation at the Capitol. It's unclear how Democrats could slice through the impeachment noise with their other messages. Impeachment could be seen just too muscular. Perhaps Democrats trod this path at their own peril.
There's only one way to walk that course. Or, as John Coltrane might say, "Both Directions at Once."