Now that Robert Mueller’s report turned into a legal and popular dud, what will House Judiciary chair Jerrold Nadler do to push Donald Trump out of office? Nadler needs an investigation that will grab voters’ attention — and nothing sells like sex, baby. Even if it’s just the stale aftertaste of a scandal that didn’t produce any bombshells except for perjury the first time around, it seems:
House Democrats plan to make President Trump’s alleged involvement in a 2016 scheme to silence two women who claimed they had affairs with him a major investigative focus this fall, picking up where federal prosecutors left off in a case legal experts say could have led to additional indictments.
The House Judiciary Committee is preparing to hold hearings and call witnesses involved in hush-money payments to ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult-film star Stormy Daniels as soon as October, according to people familiar with the plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.
Democrats say they believe there is already enough evidence to name Trump as a co-conspirator in the episode that resulted in his former attorney, Michael Cohen, pleading guilty to two campaign finance charges.
This again? Even Robert Mueller didn’t take this one seriously. Neither did the Southern District of New York, where Mueller kicked the case after realizing that Michael Cohen was not nearly as valuable a witness as he claimed. It’s not illegal to reach settlements to keep affairs quiet, even if it is unseemly — and even if it did blow up in Trump’s face. Federal prosecutors who had every motive to make a case against Trump didn’t find one to make, as the Post notes, even though Trump did get a supporting role in Cohen’s indictment as “Individual-1.”
At best, this is a campaign-finance case and a weak one at that, Paul Mirengoff argues at Power Line. It’s an FEC issue, not an impeachment issue:
The payments predate Trump’s presidency. Is it a “high crime and misdemeanor” for a candidate to buy the silence of someone who has damaging information about him? I don’t think so. At worst, it’s a technical violation of campaign finance law, and I doubt it even amounts to that.
But why let this stand in the way of sexy hearings? Stormy Daniels and the ex-Playboy model might be able to attract media attention and draw viewers to hearings that otherwise hardly anyone would watch.
Might their testimony harm Trump’s image? I doubt there’s anyone left in America who thinks Trump is above having sex with attractive women. I also doubt that any potential Trump voter would fail to understand his effort to keep such matters out of the public’s eye during a presidential election campaign. But maybe Trump will take a minor hit if Daniels testifies that her sexual encounter with Trump occurred not long after his wife had given birth.
As for the alleged campaign finance violation, we’re back to yawn inducing.
Mirengoff misses the biggest problem for Nadler and Democrats in pushing this probe. It will necessarily make Cohen their star witness. Need we remind readers that Cohen’s presently living at Club Fed for committing perjury? In his previous testimony before Congress, no less? Democrats got ripped earlier this year for bringing Cohen back for more testimony after his conviction for providing false information to Congress, at which time he apparently perjured himself all over again.
Nadler could avoid calling Cohen, but without Cohen Nadler won’t have a case. The feds couldn’t make a case even when they had Cohen. Without Cohen, all Nadler can show is that Trump had sleazy affairs before running for president, which is hardly commendable but also irrelevant for impeachment.
This looks like desperation on Nadler’s part, and Politico explains why:
In the meantime, Washington is stuck in an impeachment muddle — with Democrats straddling an ambiguous line between impeachment proceedings and standard congressional investigations. It’s a dynamic that will test the unity of a diverse Democratic caucus this fall, and shape the party’s battle to hold on to the House and defeat Trump in 2020.
“I don’t think the public is really … clear about what’s going on,” said Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) on the state of play. “Whether that’s an intentional strategy or not, I don’t know. But I think that’s clearly the case.” …
Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming court battles, Democrats will have to decide soon whether they want to force the matter. Many pro-impeachment Democrats say they need to make substantial strides by the end of the year, before the 2020 presidential campaign begins in earnest.
The unsettled state of the impeachment question was reflected in the statements of lawmakers who declared support for impeachment proceedings throughout the August recess. Some called for an impeachment inquiry outright. Others simply declared support for the Judiciary Committee’s “ongoing” impeachment efforts.
Beyer said he can’t pinpoint a precise moment when Democrats suddenly found themselves engaged in impeachment proceedings. Instead, he described it as a natural shift in the course of Democrats’ investigations.
If Nadler’s coming back around to Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen, then he doesn’t have a case at all. If Nadler did have a case, he wouldn’t have to reach back into that morass to sell it. Nadler’s running out of time, and he knows it.