WASHINGTON — On the day that House Democrats formally accused President Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors, something unusual happened in the capital: Divided government actually started to work.
Within minutes of announcing on Tuesday that Democrats would charge Mr. Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was behind closed doors with her rank and file, informing them that she was ready to deliver the president his biggest economic priority: passage of a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico.
That was not all. Democrats are also on the brink of approving a bipartisan defense bill, the largest in the nation’s history, after weeks of negotiations with Republicans, and intend to pass legislation this week on another issue that Mr. Trump has made a top priority: lowering the cost of prescription drugs.
The sudden outbreak of bipartisan cooperation, almost certain to be fleeting, was hardly an accident. Ms. Pelosi has long insisted that Democrats could “walk and chew gum at the same time” — that they were willing to work with the president on legislation even as they tried to oust him from office.
But she needed to prove it. Ms. Pelosi is well aware that if she is going to keep her majority, and her job as speaker, she cannot send her members — especially nervous moderates in Trump-friendly districts — home for the holidays empty-handed after they had voted to impeach the president.
So Tuesday turned into a split-screen morning in the Capitol, as Democrats and the press grappled with what amounted to a case of whiplash. Ms. Pelosi appeared before cameras at 9 a.m. with her top lieutenants to announce the impeachment articles, and again at 10 a.m. to announce a deal on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Some Democrats were blunt about the strategy.