Democrats Need to Make up Their Mind on Impeachment
The Democrats are trying to have it both ways. They want to impeach President Trump, but they don’t want to impeach him.
After the Mueller hearings on Wednesday, more Democrats are coming out in support of impeachment. Over 100 Democrats now publicly support an impeachment inquiry, but not necessarily impeachment proceedings and are seeking the grand jury information that was redacted from the Mueller Report, arguing that will help them determine whether or not persue formal impeachment. Before Mueller’s testimony, 95 Democrats voted to impeach Trump in a vote forced by Texas Rep. Al Green, so it is hard to say how much this truly moved the ball.
Democrats have been stuck between the fact that 64% of Democratic voters, but only 38% of the whole country supports impeachment. This move to open an inquiry, as opposed to a formal process, is therefore an attempt to reconcile these differences. Of course, they will not admit that, they will say that Mueller’s testimony altered their thought process. As the Brits like to say, “Rubbish.”
Robert Mueller’s Wednesday testimony in front of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees was the most hyped thing in Washington since, well, Mueller’s report came out, which is now jokingly referred to as “the book” version. It was a dud and even people who are predisposed to defend Mueller and attack Trump have conceded that. Anybody who thought that Mueller was going to provide some new bombshell on Wednesday is somebody who was never really all that interested in what Mueller has to say, but wanted to use to spectacle to justify their support for this impeachment inquiry, because they needed an excuse to say “This is different” because as the previously cited poll numbers show, the American people do not support it.
Even if we were to believe this newfound support for impeachment is sincere, which we should not, it is still less than convincing. People who seem to believe that Mueller’s in-person testimony damned Trump have built their case on three points.
- Mueller refused to exonerate Trump, despite Trump’s claims to be exonerated.
- Mueller said that Trump could be indicted when he leaves office
- Mueller told Rep. Lieu that if it was not for the OLC opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted, Trump would have been indicted
None of these are particularly interesting and two of them are literally old news.
Mueller refusing to exonerate Trump just repeats what the original report says. The controversy here is that “not exonerated” is a political standard that Mueller, as someone who was running a law enforcement investigation that reported to the Department of Justice, should not have used. If the House wants to impeach Trump, that is their prerogative under the Constitution, but short of enough evidence to recommend indictment, Mueller’s job was not be an arm of any Democratic impeachment efforts.
Mueller saying that Trump could be indicted after he leaves office tells us nothing. Of course, Trump can be indicted after he leaves office, because by then he will no longer be president, the question is should he and that gets back to the “not exonerated” versus presumption of innocence debate that is outside any impeachment question.
Finally, when Lieu asked Mueller, “I’d like to ask you the reason, again, that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?” Mueller responded, “That is correct.” This was the big bombshell of the morning, but it should have raised red flags because it contradicted a joint DOJ-OSC statement that said the OLC opinion did not play a role in the decision not to charge the president and indeed it did. Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko pointed this out to Mueller and when Mueller went in front of the Intelligence Committee later that day he himself corrected the matter, defusing the bombshell.
Nothing of substance changed on Wednesday. The only thing that changed was that Democrats who favored impeachment, but who were afraid to do so publicly for political reasons, found an excuse to go public with their supposedly newfound convictions. Anybody who says that Wednesday changed their mind is likely not telling the truth.
The Constitution does not require an actual crime for the House to impeach the president. “High crimes and misdemeanors” can mean pretty much mean whatever Congress wants it to, but Democrats are trying to have it both ways. They are trying to keep their base happy with this “impeachment inquiry” while telling the rest of the country that they are not impeaching. They need to pick one. Either have the courage of your convictions to impeach what you consider to be a lawless, corrupt, president who sought help from a foreign power or drop the issue, because Mueller cannot do their jobs for them. They wanted and expected Mueller to bring down Trump, he didn’t. For the sake of the country, the Democrats need to put up or shut up, because the rest of us are ready to move on.