Democrats held a conference call today to discuss the prospect of impeaching President Trump in light of the Mueller report. Politico reports that Nancy Pelosi continued to suggest a go-slow approach:
“We can investigate Trump without drafting articles,” she said during a call with HouseDemocrats, referring to articles of impeachment,according to sources on the call. “We aren’t going to go faster, we are going to go as fast as the facts take us.”
Pelosi has been consistent on this for months. Just last month she said didn’t think impeachment was “worth it,” telling the Washington Post: “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.”
But while Pelosi seems to see the downside to getting out on a limb, some in her caucus were interested in taking action:
“Mueller didn’t do us any favors,” [Rep. Val] Demings added, noting that “he left us bread crumbs to follow.”
Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), who has supported beginning impeachment proceedings in the past, said Democrats must consider the downside “of the not [pursuing] impeachment in the face of this lawlessness.”
When one lawmaker, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) raised the prospect of a censure, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) — who is firmly in Pelosi’s one-step-at-a-time camp — said censure would be possible but legally meaningless.
The problem is that Democrats spent two years raising expectations that the president would be found to have colluded with Russia. But Mueller’s report didn’t find evidence of that. It did find some evidence that Trump was interested in obstructing the investigation, but ultimately no obstruction took place. So Democrats are left with a difficult choice. Do they pursue the obstruction charge without an underlying crime or do they try to settle it at the ballot box next November?
I’m not sure if Pelosi knows it but the window to pursue this is closing. If Democrats don’t act now then it will be difficult to claim they are acting on the Mueller report months after it was released. Also, if they wait another six months until we’re well into the 2020 election cycle, it’s going to be hard to convince anyone but their own rabid base that impeachment is anything but a partisan stunt. Do they want to put their leading candidates into the position of defending that? I don’t think so but as we saw in 2016, there are two wings to the Party and there’s no guarantee they are going to cooperate now any more than they did then.