Here's how Nancy Pelosi outsmarted Mitch McConnell over impeachment rules despite an 'amazingly weak hand'
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Photos: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

On Thursday, former Clinton White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart broke down for CNN anchor Erin Burnett how, despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) seemingly on the brink of passing partisan rules to rig the Senate impeachment trial, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) outstrategized him — and left his Republican caucus vulnerable.

"Here's the thing, Joe," said Burnett. "People close to Mitch McConnell say at this point, Republicans are united. That they're not going to vote right up front. Witnesses aren't part of the deal. We would see what would happen a week in, as you point out. Lisa Murkowski, moderate Republican, she's one of the people they would need to vote for witnesses. She said today it was frustrating that the articles haven't been delivered. Now look, we wouldn't even know John Bolton was willing to testify and would appear if it weren't for Nancy Pelosi holding the articles. That is true. Is it true, though, that Democrats could have done damage to themselves with people like Murkowski by waiting so long?"

"I don't think so," said Lockhart. "In fact they've only been back a week. Pelosi had an amazingly weak hand she played to maximum advantage. She has brought focus on this trial as not, will we be hearing the same thing over and over again, about what the president did from the same voices and depositions. She's made this about, will John Bolton testify and will Mick Mulvaney testify? And that's a victory for her."

"Democrats were never going to get the votes for [Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer's plan at the outset. Their game is to have the White House come in," added Lockhart. "And remember, up until now, the main defense of the White House is, there's no first-hand corroboration that the president was involved in any of this. And all the Democrats have to do is continually raise their hand and say, let's get that first-hand corroboration."

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