Well, it’s time to open an impeachment inquiry at least, he says, which I suppose is different. House Democrats might consider that a way to appease the anti-Trumpers in their base without going nuclear with full-blown impeachment. They can begin an impeachment investigation, enjoying the extra constitutional power that might provide them in obtaining documents like Trump’s tax returns, then take their sweet time and never quite reach a conclusion about what to do before the election.
Is the left really that cheap of a cheap date, though? If this is just a stalling tactic to keep the heat from progressives off of the House leadership, with no good-faith intent to actually pursue impeachment, lefties will call them out on it. Especially if anything Russia-related happens next year during the campaign. “WHAT ARE WE DOING ON IMPEACHMENT?” progressives will cry. What will Pelosi and Ben Ray Lujan say then?
House Dems can’t “open an impeachment inquiry” and then not impeach. Having had its heart broken once by Mueller, the left won’t tolerate having it broken again by its own reps.
“The Trump presidency is creating grave national security concerns. Our country’s intelligence agencies have confirmed that the Russian government attacked America during the 2016 elections. Numerous experts have warned that these attacks are ongoing to this day. And when faced with this evidence from his own government, President Trump has failed to act. Not only has he ignored the warnings that our Democracy is being targeted, but he has also actively encouraged Russian interference.
“When Special Counsel Mueller released his report, I read it in full. I was alarmed by the Trump campaign and the Trump White House’s brazen disregard for the rule of law. The report detailed sustained and frequent attempts by the Trump campaign to establish ties to the Russian government and an eagerness to benefit from hacked information stolen from our fellow Americans. The Special Counsel also detailed ten different attempts by President Trump to obstruct justice during the investigation. This would be unacceptable behavior from any president.
“President Trump’s lack of action is jeopardizing our elections, national security, and Democracy.
“What is evident is that President Trump is abdicating his responsibility to defend our nation from Russian attacks and is putting his own personal and political interests ahead of the American people.”
Normally someone as high-ranking as Lujan joining Team Impeachment would be big news, not only because of what it might signal about Pelosi’s own thinking but because of the unusual sway he holds over the Democrats’ freshman class. He’s not just the assistant Speaker and a Pelosi ally, he was the head of the DCCC last year when Dems mopped the floor with Republicans in House races. A centrist freshman who’s worried about how impeachment might hurt them back home next fall might take heart from Lujan coming out in favor, knowing that he’s better attuned than most in the House to what sorts of Democratic gambits can and can’t play nationally.
But I don’t know if there’s any grand lesson for them to take from his impeachment support here. That’s because Lujan is leaving the House and running for Senate next year in his home state of New Mexico to replace the retiring Tom Udall. He’s facing a contested primary too, although he’s the odds-on favorite given his support among the party’s leadership and the fact that his family is a political dynasty in the state. (His cousin is the current governor.) Lujan’s not hoping to trigger a pro-impeachment cascade in the House or to twist Pelosi’s arm, in other words, he’s covering his left flank ahead of a statewide run against several other Democrats next spring. If he were to waver on the core lefty proposition of Orange Man Bad, that might be enough to galvanize progressives in New Mexico to trying to defeat him in the primary. So he’s checking the box he needs to check.
It tells you a lot about how confident he is of victory too that he’d ditch the House given what a plum position he’s in there. At just 45 years old, he’s decades younger than the people ahead of him in the Dem leadership. And there’s no reason to believe Democrats will lose their House majority soon, meaning that Lujan stood a very real chance of becoming the first Latino Speaker if he had stayed put — maybe in just a few years. He’s giving all of that up because he suspects he’ll have a cakewalk for the Senate seat, which is likely true, and once he’s a senator he’ll become a top-flight Democratic candidate for president in 2024 or 2028. So in all likelihood, his lurch towards impeachment was done with Pelosi’s blessing, a special dispensation aimed at helping him win his next election and advance through the party.
Besides, haven’t Democrats … already opened an impeachment inquiry? They’re running a sort of “Schrodinger’s inquiry” right now in which Pelosi continues to insist that she’s not for impeachment and the party should look forward while Jerry Nadler operates as though there’s already an active impeachment probe and he’s proceeding accordingly. From late July:
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler’s announcement on Friday that the House is formally seeking special counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury information complicates the far more cautious message on impeachment coming from Pelosi and her top deputies.
Nadler said the action “in effect” is part of an impeachment inquiry — though one has not been formally launched — and in petitioning a federal court for the grand jury evidence, House Democrats put in writing for the first time that they are considering whether impeachment is warranted…
Friday’s court filing is more explicit: The “House must have access to all the relevant facts and consider whether to exercise its full Article I powers, including a constitutional power of the utmost gravity — approval of articles of impeachment.”
There’s a certain Trumpish attitude to the Democratic approach here in that it seems aimed at letting everyone hear what they want to hear. If you think the House should stay away from impeachment, great, Pelosi is with you. If you think the House should impeach with all due haste, great, Nadler’s already a step ahead of you. If you think the House should be cautious but at least open an impeachment inquiry, great, Ben Ray Lujan couldn’t agree more. They’re just going to muddle through here, I think, conducting a low-key investigation that can turn quickly into a formal impeachment push if and when Nadler and Adam Schiff turn up something on Trump that’s explosive.
Exit question: Given the wrenching, still ongoing political crisis that resulted from Russia’s interference in 2016, every garbage rogue regime under the sun will be trying to meddle somehow in 2020, right? Hack into a few choice databases, let your presence be known somehow, and watch righties and lefties go for each other’s throats with allegations that their candidate is illegitimate because he/she benefited from illicit foreign help.