Hillary Clinton has written an op-ed for the Washington Post in which she offers her take on the Mueller report and how to proceed on the question of impeachment. There’s a current divide within the Democratic Party between those eager to start impeachment immediately and those in the leadership, like Speaker Pelosi, who believe impeachment isn’t worth the hassle while still allowing latitude for further investigation. Clinton comes down on Pelosi’s side, i.e. a go-slow approach.
The debate about how to respond to Russia’s “sweeping and systemic” attack — and how to hold President Trump accountable for obstructing the investigation and possibly breaking the law — has been reduced to a false choice: immediate impeachment or nothing. History suggests there’s a better way to think about the choices ahead.
Obviously, this is personal for me, and some may say that I’m not the right messenger. But my perspective is not just that of a former candidate and target of the Russian plot. I am also a former senator and secretary of state who served during much of Vladimir Putin’s ascent, sat across the table from him and knows firsthand that he seeks to weaken our country.
Hillary certainly has some skin in this game but notice how she’s framing this. In her view, Mueller’s report has two main points. First, sweeping interference in the 2016 election by Russia. And second, possible obstruction by Trump. Notice anything missing? What happened to the collusion narrative Hillary’s party has been flogging for the past two years? You’ll be shocked to learn the word “collusion” doesn’t appear in her op-ed even once. Apparently, that was never a thing and Mueller’s report had nothing to say about it. Her op-ed is like an article at Vox. You can always tell where the best arguments for the other side are by what has been conveniently left out of the discussion. In this case, it’s collusion.
So having set this up in a blatantly partisan way, Hillary says it’s time to rise above partisanship:
First, like any time our nation is threatened, we have to remember that this is bigger than politics. What our country needs now is clear-eyed patriotism, not reflexive partisanship. Whether they like it or not, Republicans in Congress share the constitutional responsibility to protect the country. Mueller’s report leaves many unanswered questions — in part because of Attorney General William P. Barr’s redactions and obfuscations. But it is a road map. It’s up to members of both parties to see where that road map leads — to the eventual filing of articles of impeachment, or not. Either way, the nation’s interests will be best served by putting party and political considerations aside and being deliberate, fair and fearless.
Is the woman tone deaf? She literally wrote that now is not the time for “reflexive partisanship” and her next line is that slothful Republicans need to step up for once. And the line after that references another Democratic bogeyman, AG Barr. Having loaded up this paragraph with partisan jabs, she concludes that it’s time to rise above base political considerations. Sure, Hillary. Thanks for showing us what that looks like in this totally non-partisan attack on the GOP and the Attorney General. Her nonpartisan advice continues with the suggestion that Democrats should treat President Trump just like Nixon:
Then, as now, there was an investigation that found evidence of corruption and a coverup. It was complemented by public hearings conducted by a Senate select committee, which insisted that executive privilege could not be used to shield criminal conduct and compelled White House aides to testify. The televised hearings added to the factual record and, crucially, helped the public understand the facts in a way that no dense legal report could. Similar hearings with Mueller, former White House counsel Donald McGahn and other key witnesses could do the same today.
In short, turn the Mueller report into a TV show. That’s really the core of her advice. And she’s probably right from a purely partisan viewpoint. We’ve got two cable networks (CNN and MSNBC) who have been doing pretty well financially on the back of the Russia collusion story. They’d be happy to see it become an ongoing battle in Congress that they can bloviate about until the 2020 election. But as much as I think Hillary’s response is entirely partisan she does say one thing I agree with:
The Mueller report isn’t just a reckoning about our recent history; it’s a warning about the future. Unless checked, the Russians will interfere again in 2020, and possibly other adversaries, such as China or North Korea, will as well. This is an urgent threat. Nobody but Americans should be able to decide America’s future.
She, of course, blames that on President Trump rather than President Obama who was actually in office when most of this interference was taking place. Putting that aside, she’s right that Russia is an adversary and will certainly try this again. China and North Korea might be thinking about seeing if they can do the same. We do need to address the threat.
Here’s the twist I think a lot of Democrats, including Hillary, haven’t seen coming yet. Whether it’s in 2020 or 2024, at some point the candidate a foreign power seeks to help in a presidential election is going to probably be a Democrat. Why? Because what they want most is to sow discord and make more people distrust democracy. At some point in the future, we’ll find out that Democrats don’t really see the big deal in collusion so long as their candidate won the election.