Nancy in the swamp of despond
It's becoming clearer that Nancy Pelosi's half-clever ploy of unilaterally declaring that an impeachment "inquiry" was in progress is backfiring in a big way.
At first, it seemed that this was a smart move — by simply stating an inquiry was in motion without going through the necessary formalities such as a full House vote, Pelosi was calming the crazies of her caucus (such as the Squad), while leaving herself plenty of maneuvering room to divert or back out should things start to deteriorate.
But now the pterodactyls have come home to roost, and the drawbacks of her game have become evident. On Friday, the White House sent Pelosi a letter of a type she is unlikely to have welcomed. Refusing to cooperate with the House "inquiry," the White House dared Pelosi to hold an actual vote. Pelosi responded with what was effectively a non-answer, stating that she might or might not, but that the White House has to cooperate in any case.
The matter was given further point when three House committees — Oversight, Intelligence, and Foreign Affairs — sent subpoenas to the White House, Donald Trump, and Mike Pence, demanding an array of documents in what likely amounts to no more than a fishing expedition. The chairs of the committees, which includes the usual suspects Adam Schiff and Elijah Cummings, huffed that the White House had been "given a chance to cooperate," forcing them to issue the subpoenas.
It's unlikely that anyone in the White House will respond, especially in the wake of Trump's letter to Nancy.
The major question here is whether the House has any grounds for action whatsoever in the absence of a formal vote, and whether the White House has any obligation to respond. In cases like this, it's inevitable that it's going to end up with the courts.
This can't possibly be encouraging to Nancy and Little Orphan Adam. The only hope they have for effective damage control is a swift strike — an impeachment vote by the December recess that doesn't spill over into the new year. Otherwise, the impeachment itself becomes an issue in the presidential campaign, with the Democratic Party and its leadership open to attacks from all directions.
Considering the deliberation of the court system, along with the Trump administration's ability to appeal all the way up to the Supreme Court, this is very likely to happen. It's possible we won't see a final decision until after the 2020 election.
What Nancy has done is to hand the entire deck of cards to Donald Trump. The president can now shuffle them or not as he pleases and set them down one by one as the spirit moves him. This can't possibly be a good feeling for the speaker. And it's only going to get worse.