House Dem: Some in my caucus having second thoughts about impeachment

House Dem: Some in my caucus having second thoughts about impeachment

Have Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi failed to close the deal on impeachment — even among House Democrats? “You don’t disenfranchise voters,” New Jersey Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew tells Maria Bartiromo today. “Voters choose their leaders in America.” Absent anything more than the “hearsay” Schiff has presented thus far, Van Drew won’t vote for impeachment. And Van Drew says he’s hearing some of his colleagues have grown “bored” with the circus and want to move on:

Van Drew told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo he plans on voting against impeaching Trump when the time comes unless, “there’s something new or something we have not heard or something that really rises to the level of treason or high crime, that would be different. But we do not see that. We see little different variations, hearsay, discussions, somebody heard something that somebody else said.”

“Impeachment as you know, our Founding Fathers had vigorous debate of whether they would even allow impeachment in the Constitution,” he continued. “You don’t disenfranchise voters. Millions upon millions of voters. Voters choose their leaders in America.”

Bartiromo asked Van Drew if there are other Trump-district Democrats who are going to be voting against impeachment.

“So I don’t know how other folks will vote because in all honesty, originally, I thought there was going to be a few more, not that it matters to me if I’m 1 of 101. I do what I believe is right,” Van Drew replied. “But there is some discussion among some of them quietly, privately of concern, certainly. I mean, what I’m hearing in the street with most people is they’re tired, they’re kind of worn out, they’re bored and they really want to move on.”

House Democrats in marginal districts might be the most “bored,” so to speak. They climbed out on a limb to approve the rules of the inquiry, trusting Adam Schiff’s representations of smoking guns. There hasn’t been any such nuggets in the first few days of these hearings, however, and there are some hints that Republicans might find ways to reverse some of the damage done by Schiff’s leaky deposition sessions.

What happens if hearsay and leaks about unproven quid pro quos is all Schiff turns up? The best way to deal with that would be to draw up a censure instead, allowing Democrats to consolidate their gains from the political arguments raised at the hearings without overstepping into an illegitimate attempt to reverse the 2016 election. After committing so forcefully to impeachment and messaging it so heavily over the weekend, though, Pelosi has no room to retreat. That puts her in an awkward position if Van Drew is correct and unrest is growing over the impeachment effort. A failed House vote on impeachment will be seized by Trump as a vindication, and progressives will roast Pelosi and her leadership for it.

That might be preferable to the alternative, however. If some House Democrats have become tired, worn out, and bored, just imagine what voters outside the Beltway bubble think about this circus. As I warned last week, Schiff had a very small window for success — and it’s probably already closed:

[I]n 1974, Americans were somewhat limited in their viewing options: It was either the hearings, or the soap operas and game shows that populated the dial. Today, most Americans have hundreds of choices for their viewing pleasure, and even under the best of circumstances for the most hopelessly addicted news junkies, committee hearings are anything but pleasurable viewing. If Democrats can’t make a dramatic case immediately for staying tuned, viewers will “touch that dial” and move on. …

None of this adds up to a compelling case for abuse of power, even if the witnesses might have criticisms (legitimate or otherwise) of Trump’s policies and deportment. House Democrats will ask viewers to slog through hours of committee protocol, arguments, speeches, and Beltway minutia without much of a payoff except to amplify Democrats’ general complaints about Trump that they have made since his election three years ago. …

That won’t move Americans closer to consensus on impeachment and removal. It might move them closer to the realization that this is nothing much more than a political argument that belongs in an election campaign.

Indeed, it seems that House Democrats are belatedly coming to that realization too.

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