'When' is Pelosi's strategy against Trump
First Voice

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Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi once said in an interview: "For me, timing is everything… when we get more facts, when the truth has more clarity, we will be ready."

It reads as if the "facts" and "clarity" are what Pelosi is after, and people are waiting for them. Press, pundits and politicians analyzed each hearing with zeal, looking for explosive revelations in every new piece of information that came out. Breaking news alerts on phones read like a rolling text update of the impeachment procedure.

But it is turning out that "facts" and "clarity" are not necessarily the emphasis here. What has transpired over the past months is proving one thing: Pelosi was literal when she said "timing is everything".

Many are seeing Pelosi's decision to send over the articles of impeachment to the Senate on Wednesday as a capitulation on the Speaker's part. And it might very well be. After all, even a senior Democratic Senator like Dianne Feinstein publicly expressed dissatisfaction towards Pelosi holding the articles of impeachment (Feinstein later backtracked).

But, it isn't a coincidence that Pelosi signed the articles of impeachment over to the Senate on Wednesday, the same day that U.S. President Donald Trump signed the phase one of the China-U.S. trade deal with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in the White House. 

The juxtaposition of the two events have created contrasting headlines that might not be desirable to Trump. Though the top opinion article on Bloomberg is titled "Trump wins round one of the U.S.-China trade war", its top political story says "House sends impeachment to Senate; Trump trial starts next week". Later in the evening, the front page of CNN has only one link to the China-U.S. trade deal, while the word "impeachment" is enlarged and emphasized.

A screenshot of CNN at 14:56 Beijing time on January 16, 2020. Only a small link on the right hand side is related to the China-U.S. phase one trade deal.

A screenshot of CNN at 14:56 Beijing time on January 16, 2020. Only a small link on the right hand side is related to the China-U.S. phase one trade deal.

This is not the first time two opposing headlines have been juxtaposed. Back in December when the House voted on the articles of impeachment, Pelosi chose to call the vote on the last couple of working days of the year. While voting to impeach Trump, she also passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) through the House, a foreign policy achievement long coveted by the Trump administration. During the same period, she sent out an invitation to Trump to invite him to give the State of the Union address. The public discourse on this matter lasted throughout the entire holiday season.

By orchestrating events of opposing political ramifications with timely precision, Pelosi seems to have kept the Trump administration off balance. With every major event that Trump celebrates, there's an (or many) opposing headline with the word "impeachment" embedded in it. The USMCA and the China-U.S. trade deal, the two most important foreign policy promises Trump made during his first presidential campaign, are critical to his electoral prospects. Now, instead of a celebration, Trump is forced to deal with the advancing of articles of impeachment. The public, instead of tuning into the trade agreement, is being bombarded with videos of Pelosi signing the articles of impeachment and House members carrying the them to the Senate chamber.

So far, it seems that the gambit is working. The Washington Post reported that in November, public support for impeachment was at 47 percent. On January 13, the Quinnipiac poll found that 51 percent of voters approve of the House's vote to impeach Trump. 66 percent seek testimony from Trump's former National Security Advisor John Bolton whom, during the period in which Pelosi refused to transfer the articles to Senate, said that he is open to testify.

The situation is still evolving. As Trump is set for a State of the Union address on February 4, it is becoming more and more likely that his speech will come amid the Senate trial. At height of the country's attention to the President, Pelosi seems to have arranged another timed distraction. And regardless of the outcome, Pelosi's timing has made sure that there's always a cloud hanging over Trump's celebration.

Script writer: Huang Jiyuan

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