Progressives slam Democrats for announcing their new trade deal with Trump an hour after they said they're bringing articles of impeachment

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  • On Tuesday morning, House Democrats unveiled articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump and announced they'd reached an agreement with the White House on a NAFTA replacement.
  • Supports of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and more moderate Democrats praised the one-two punch of impeachment and the trade deal, arguing that Democrats needed to prove they can "walk & chew gum at the same time."
  • Behind closed doors, Pelosi insisted that Democrats had the upper hand in the trade deal and had outstrategized the GOP. "We ate their lunch," she told her caucus.
  • But critics of the strategy insisted the trade deal undermined Democrats' claim that the president is dangerously unfit for office and lent credence to Trump's argument that he's getting his job done.
  • "Either the Republic is in danger and impeachment is necessary, or it's not that big a deal and congress can do business as usual," said Adam Serwer, a writer for The Atlantic.
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Tuesday morning was a busy one for House Democrats.

By 10 a.m., Speaker Nancy Pelosi had unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump and announced that Democrats had reached an agreement with the president on a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Democrats were somber in announcing the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress against the president. But the mood was almost jubilant an hour later when Pelosi praised the White House-led United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which she said Democrats took "great pride in." Democrats touted their efforts in securing various environmental and labor regulations in the deal, which Mexico and Canada are expected to sign in the coming days.

Meanwhile, Trump took a break from bashing Democrats over the impeachment charges to promote the deal.

"Looking like very good Democrat support for USMCA. That would be great for our Country!" he tweeted.

Pelosi told reporters on Tuesday that Democrats didn't have much control over the timing of either development.

The impeachment hearings concluded on Monday, so it only made sense to unveil the articles of impeachment on Tuesday, she said. And US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who has led the USMCA negotiations, wanted to finalize the NAFTA replacement before Congress goes on recess and while Democrats and Republicans remain on the same page.

"It's not a coincidence — it's just as we get to the end of a session, there have to be some decisions made," the speaker told reporters during a press conference, adding, "We didn't know what day it would be."

'A stunning betrayal'

Behind closed doors, Pelosi insisted that Democrats had the upper hand in the trade deal and outstrategized the GOP.

"We ate their lunch," Pelosi said in a caucus meeting, according to the CNN reporter Manu Raju.

Supporters of Pelosi and more moderate Democrats praised the one-two punch of impeachment and the trade deal, arguing that Democrats needed to prove they can "walk & chew gum at the same time." But many progressives slammed the strategy, arguing that the USMCA undermined the party's case for impeachment.

"Congrats to house democrats for handing trump a nice bipartisan victory on the same day they announced their articles of impeachment," said Jamelle Bouie, a New York Times columnist. "Definitely not a muddled message."

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a news conference on the USMCA trade agreement on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 10, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Reuters

Critics of the strategy insisted the trade deal also undermined Democrats' claim that the president is dangerously unfit for office and lent credence to Trump's argument that he's getting his job done despite an impeachment process he has called a "coup."

"House Dems were elected on a wave of anti-Trump sentiment and are now diligently working to ensure his reelection and send the message to the electorate that impeachment is just meaningless partisan theater," said Adam Serwer, a writer at The Atlantic.

Serwer added: "Either the Republic is in danger and impeachment is necessary, or it's not that big a deal and congress can do business as usual."

Some argued that Democrats were fulfilling the "Dems in disarray" stereotype and mistakenly looking to appease voters in swing states.

"Nothing more perfectly embodies the Democratic party than announcing articles of impeachment and a huge deal with the President on his single biggest priority on the same day," said Chris Hayes, the progressive MSNBC host.

Will Stancil, a researcher at the University of Minnesota Law School, called Pelosi's strategy "insane."

"This isn't 12-dimensional chess, it's just House Democrats spinning wildly in place, trying to square two incompatible facts: their irresistible desire to look sober and bipartisan by always compromising [and] the absolute objective unacceptability of Trump," he tweeted. "And the result is lunacy."

Brian Beutler, the editor-in-chief of the progressive media outlet Crooked Media, called Pelosi's strategy "a stunning betrayal."

"If you kill the deal you can say it was a shitty deal, like everything else Trump has done and that you'll do better," he tweeted. "If you pass the deal you tell voters yeah president deals actually did a good deal just like he promised. It's insane."

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