John mentioned this in his post earlier but it warrants its own thread. Even the chief Russiagate inquisitor in Congress, the man to whom leftists are looking to expose the collusion that’s allegedly going to force Trump from office, is suddenly a no-go on impeachment.

Sort of.

By the way, didn’t the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, the body responsible for initiating impeachment proceedings, already pronounce Trump guilty of obstruction of justice? How can they decline to impeach now?

“Very graphic evidence” is putting it mildly. Try to imagine what sort of dirt Democrats would need to dig up, and how unimpeachable the integrity of that dirt would need to be, to convince 20 Senate Republicans to remove not just a sitting president from their own party but the guy who’s topping the next ballot for them.

In an election year, too. Since the Dems’ various House investigations will take awhile to unspool, presumably no push to impeach would begin until early next year. Imagine Senate Republicans contemplating removal mere months away from (some of) their own seats being on the line. Is there anything Dems could produce apart from a video of Trump murdering someone that would get them to support removal? Even if they had a snuff video, wouldn’t Trump’s claim that it’s a “deepfake” instantly put all doubts on the right to rest?

You can see why Schiff focused on “very graphic evidence” with that hypothetical. It would take photographic evidence of a very serious crime to get Republicans to move. Literally 100 witnesses testifying that they personally witnessed Trump doing something illegal would be dismissed by righties as election-year nonsense.

Although I do wonder: What if Democrats uncovered something that convinced most of the public, albeit obviously not Republicans, that impeachment is warranted? At the moment, there are many valid reasons for Pelosi and Schiff to want to shut down the impeachment chatter. They don’t want next year’s candidates being thrown off-message by incessant impeachment pestering from the left; they fear that swing voters will recoil if impeachment looks too blatantly partisan; they reassert a little authority over the unruly impeachment-hungry progressive freshmen in the caucus by drawing this line in the sand; and most of all they deny (to some extent) Trump a process that would probably motivate righties more than lefties. If they impeach him and fail to remove, Trump will demand vengeance from his base in the form of a second term and crushing Democratic losses in Congress. Even if they don’t impeach him but spend the next year dangling it as a possibility, Trump will use it as a call to take back the House in 2020. Pelosi’s trying to take away that turnout fuel early.

But as I say, what if something turns up that makes the public suddenly lean towards impeachment? Imagine it becomes, say, a 57/43 proposition across the population, with Dems all in favor, independents strongly in favor, and Republicans all opposed? That’s not a far-fetched scenario. Pelosi would still be reluctant to follow through, if only because impeachment politics are unpredictable and the public won’t tolerate a second attempt in his second term if a first attempt fails now (again, barring “very graphic evidence” of new wrongdoing coming to light). But it’s at least possible that impeachment would be popular with a majority of the public; it could be Senate Republicans who end up suffering in November’s elections among indies for refusing to remove Trump when they had the chance. In this scenario, the futility of the effort becomes a point in its favor: Why not impeach if the public’s on your side and there’s zero chance of chaotic upheaval in the form of the president being ousted from office? It’s basically a “symbolic” rebuke of an unpopular president viewed by many as corrupt.

Pelosi and Schiff are following a master plan. Launch a bunch of investigations, use Congress’s subpoena power to dig up as much oppo research as they can find, proceed very slo-o-o-o-wly in order to hold off grumpy progressives whining “Can we impeach him now?“, and then present their findings to the public in the fall of next year. The Senate won’t remove Trump but the electorate might; they’re the intended impeachment “jury,” not McConnell’s caucus. Pelosi tried to advance that plan today by ruling out impeachment by the House but it’ll work only insofar as the House investigations fail to unearth anything explosive. If and when they do, progressives will demand action, insisting that to hold off on impeachment just because Senate Republicans won’t pull the trigger on removal amounts to letting those Republicans, and Trump, off the hook for his misdeeds. Pelosi may want to believe that she’s in control of this grenade but any Democratic committee could pull the pin on it by digging up something truly juicy.

Unless they try to suppress it so that they’re not forced to act on it, I mean.

By the way, Schiff also said today that he thinks Trump should testify before a grand jury. Good luck with that one, bro.