Analysis: Nancy Pelosi Is Giving Joe Biden A Leg Up Before Iowa

Peter Hasson on January 10, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Friday that she would be sending articles of impeachment over to the Senate next week.

Pelosi’s announcement came more than three weeks after the House formally voted to impeach President Donald Trump.

Pelosi is sending over the articles of impeachment without securing any of the concessions she demanded from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — concessions she insisted were a prerequisite for sending the articles.

But her delay in starting the impeachment process will have accomplished one thing: taking Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts off the presidential campaign trail right before the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses.

Regardless of whether or not it was Pelosi’s intention, her otherwise-fruitless delay in sending the articles to the Senate will have sidelined the two most anti-establishment Democratic candidates at a crucial point in the primary.

Sanders is currently leading the field in both Iowa and New Hampshire, while Warren is hovering around the 15% threshold for receiving delegates in both states, according to RealClearPolitics’ polling averages.

Taking both senators off the campaign trail would give an advantage to former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, both of whom are in contention to win Iowa and New Hampshire, and neither of whom are as far to the left as Sanders and Warren.

“Of course it matters,” Warren told Politico of being stuck in Washington, D.C., while other candidates are campaigning. “We just did a 3½-hour selfie line. Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter to do face to face.”

The Senate trial is estimated to last between two and six weeks. (Former President Bill Clinton’s Senate impeachment trial, for reference, lasted five weeks.)

Assuming the trial begins next week, even if the process lasts two weeks, that will keep Sanders and Warren largely contained to Washington, D.C., until days before the caucuses begin.

If the trial lasts three weeks or longer, Sanders and Warren are likely to still be in the nation’s capital on the day of the caucuses. A four-week trial would almost certainly cause the two senators to miss the New Hampshire primaries as well.

Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Michael Bennett of Colorado would also be stuck in Washington, but none of them are currently among the frontrunners.

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