Photo: Mark Wilson (Getty Images)

If a New York Times article by Glenn Thrush is accurate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi believes that President Donald Trump is thoroughly unfit for office, but she doesn’t believe impeachment is an appropriate strategy.

Instead, Pelosi, who spoke with Thrush earlier this week, remains focused on handing Trump a resounding defeat at the ballot box in 2020. One of the more disturbing things Pelosi said in the interview is that she isn’t convinced Trump will leave office if he loses the next election.

Per the Times:

In recent weeks Ms. Pelosi has told associates that she does not automatically trust the president to respect the results of any election short of an overwhelming defeat. That view, fed by Mr. Trump’s repeated and unsubstantiated claims of Democratic voter fraud, is one of the reasons she says it is imperative not to play into the president’s hands, especially on impeachment.

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So, according to Pelosi’s thinking, it’s crucial to beat Trump in 2020 by a large margin so that challenging the election’s legitimacy is out of the question.

Her plan to do that: “Own the center left, own the mainstream.”

The Speaker clearly believes Trump is impeachable, even if she isn’t exactly saying so directly. She told the Times that Trump has a short attention span, knows little about important subjects, and has degraded the country and dishonored the Constitution.

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Yet, Thrush writes: “Ms. Pelosi remains committed to avoiding impeachment, but it is clear that she is losing patience.”

Curiously, the same day the Times report was published, NBC News published a story with a different take: that Pelosi has positioned House Democrats on the same path as Congress did in the early 1970s, which resulted in President Richard Nixon’s resignation.

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Per NBC:

Today, Pelosi is supporting the ongoing House Judiciary Committee investigation into President Donald Trump and the Mueller report. Left unsaid is that this is similar to the kind of investigation that would take place if the panel were conducting a formal impeachment proceeding. The investigation will serve to educate the American people about the depth and extent of Trump’s malfeasance just as the Senate Watergate Committee’s investigation did with Nixon.

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That part about educating the American people is important. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that about half of respondents oppose impeachment hearings. The other half either said they support the immediate start of impeachment proceedings or congressional investigations to study impeachment further.

A different survey, the Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll, found that 65% of respondents oppose impeachment proceedings, according to The Hill.

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The NBC report noted:

It is a mistake to assume that the American people know the many important details of Trump’s wrongdoing revealed in the 448-page Mueller report. That is why this story must be told to the American people through televised congressional hearings. The Mueller report’s printed words of Trump’s wrongdoings must be brought to life through televised hearings and other media formats, just as the story of Nixon’s wrongdoings was told through the Senate Watergate hearings.

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There is another, more obvious, calculus in Pelosi’s thinking, which she described as a “coldblooded” plan to get rid of Trump. According to the Times, that plan is: “Do not get dragged into a protracted impeachment bid that will ultimately get crushed in the Republican-controlled Senate, and do not risk alienating the moderate voters who flocked to the party in 2018 by drifting too far to the left.”

I’m not sure I would describe that plan as “coldblooded.” Exceedingly cautious might be a better way to characterize it.