Democrats look to expand impeachment charges

Well, this could prove to be very interesting indeed. While most of us are debating what to get that hard-to-shop-for relative for Christmas this year, senior House Democrats will be arguing over something very different this week. The Washington Post is reporting that their as-usual unnamed sources claim that the House Majority leadership is considering adding more impeachment charges against President Trump rather than just focusing on his phone call to the Ukranian president. And what might they be pondering adding to the list? Why, the Russia, Russia, Russia investigation, of course. Oh, and the Emoluments Clause.

House Democrats are debating whether to expand articles of impeachment to include charges beyond abuse of power in the Ukraine controversy, setting up a potential internal clash as the party races to impeach President Trump by Christmastime.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee and other more liberal-minded lawmakers and congressional aides have been privately discussing the possibility of drafting articles that include obstruction of justice or other “high crimes” they believe are clearly outlined in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report — or allegations that Trump has used his office to benefit his bottom line.

The idea, however, is running into resistance from some moderate Democrats wary of impeachment blowback in their GOP-leaning districts, as well as Democratic leaders who sought to keep impeachment narrowly focused on allegations that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk freely.

Why this tactical change at the eleventh hour? Two possibilities come to mind. The first is that the Democrats are seeing the polling on support for impeachment stubbornly refusing to move much beyond an even split. At the same time, they could be worried that the Ukraine call by itself isn’t enough to meet the bar for high crimes and misdemeanors for most people, potentially including some of the Democratic members of Congress who they need to vote for impeachment. Tossing a few more accusations on the pile might be seen as insurance to bring their members along.

Another, perhaps crazier possibility is that they’ve convinced themselves that they’ve got this thing in the bag and they stand a chance to get a significant number of Republicans in the Senate to go along if they make their case appear strong enough. It’s been pretty clear all along that Senate Republicans aren’t going to vote for removal based on the Ukraine brouhaha. But if they can lengthen the list, Pelosi and her friends might have convinced themselves that they can actually remove the President from office.

That sounds more fanciful than anything else. And I still wouldn’t rule out the idea that a meaningful number of Democrats who are facing reelection in Trump country won’t bail out on this show when it comes time to vote. A good example of that might be found in Anthony Brindisi, the Democrat currently holding New York’s 22nd district seat. He won election last time by barely one percent in a race that took weeks to finish counting. And Cook still rates the 22nd as R+6. The GOP is hammering him with advertisements about impeachment every day and he’s got to be getting nervous.

Here’s another question that’s been on my mind this week. Is it possible that the Democrats have “peaked too soon” in terms of impeachment? If this plays out the way many of us expect, the House Democrats will impeach Trump before Christmas and Cocaine Mitch will have the trial over in the Senate in January, with Trump still in office. By the time summer rolls around and we move into the general election, impeachment will be a distant memory for most voters, likely recalled as a huge waste of time producing no results. At that point, it could wind up being a non-factor in the final months, or possibly even a negative for the Democrats. Something to ponder, anyway.