Two weeks ago I talked about how House GOP Freedom Caucus leaders Rep. Mark Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan were considering articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General (and Mueller probe boss) Rod Rosenstein, a doomed effort that could nevertheless provide the political cover Trump needed to start mass firings in the DoJ.
Last week I noted that GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan and House GOP Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Trey Gowdy were blocking that effort in the wake of the double-barreled blast of Trump's disastrous trip to Finland to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the indictment of suspected Russian agent and NRA enthusiast Maria Butina.
That brings us to this week, where Trump, battered by economic news by US corporations blaming his trade war for lost profits and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen unleashing recordings of his conversations with Trump about buying off mistresses, needs something to rally his base, and that something is Meadows and Jordan making their move against Rosenstein official.
A group of Republican lawmakers on Wednesday introduced articles of impeachment to remove Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, escalating a fight over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Representatives Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, who belong to the conservative House Freedom Caucus, joined nine other House members in accusing Rosenstein of hiding investigative information from Congress, failure to comply with congressional subpoenas and other alleged misconduct.
Rosenstein, the No. 2 official at the Justice Department, has become a frequent punching bag for supporters of President Donald Trump for appointing Mueller to investigate whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton. The president has denied such collusion took place.
“The DOJ is keeping information from Congress,” Jordan said, referring to the Department of Justice. “Enough is enough. It’s time to hold Mr. Rosenstein accountable for blocking Congress’s constitutional oversight role.”
A Justice Department official said the agency had no comment.
So we're in a for a long summer fight, right?
Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said on Twitter the articles of impeachment “were filed in bad faith and show extraordinary lengths to which House Republicans will go to protect Trump.”
The House is scheduled to leave on Thursday on a recess that extends until the first week of September.
A House Republican aide said the two lawmakers were not attempting to force quick action on the articles of impeachment.
Oh yeah, the August recess where lawmakers give themselves a six-week vacation to go campaign. So no, this isn't going anywhere until after Labor Day. And even then, it's not going anywhere.
But it sure gives House Republicans something to talk about when they campaign and fundraise for the next month and change back home, huh. Yes, this is a stupid publicity stunt on the part of the House GOP, only 11 House Republicans signed on and there's no real way Paul Ryan is even going to let this come up for a vote, much less Mitch McConnell holding a trial in the final month or two of the midterm campaign.
Ahhh but what about the fact that House members can force an impeachment vote if they truly want to?
A Meadows spokesman said the North Carolina Republican was leaving open the option of making the resolution privileged to force a vote. But such a move isn't likely to occur until after the House returns in September.
"Information has been hidden, efforts have been stonewalled," Meadows said during an appearance on Fox News Wednesday night. "I guess for us, it's all about transparency so the American people can judge for themselves. They may be able to ignore Congress but they can't ignore the American people."
Later in the Fox News interview, Meadows hinted he may try to force a vote on the House floor about the articles of impeachment against Rosenstein as soon as Thursday. Meadows said he doesn't want to bring the motion to the floor without Ryan's permission but that it's possible it can happen.
"But starting tomorrow, we can bring it up as a privileged motion," he said.
He added, "It really means it would require a vote on the House floor within two days and that's something that any member of Congress, Jim or I, can do. And quite frankly, it's either we hold him in contempt or we get the documents or we impeach him, and the only thing we have control over is the ability to bring impeachment straight to the floor."
So this is really just a threat they are leaving open for at least six weeks, and probably forever. Meadows could have made this a privileged motion and to call on a vote, but specifically chose not to do so. In other words, as I said above, this is a campaign publicity stunt and nothing more, something Jim Jordan desperately needs back home in Ohio as he faces voters on his past assistant coaching role in the Ohio State wrestling abuse scandal.
That doesn't mean however that Trump isn't going to use the impeachment articles as cover to fire Rosenstein outright while Congress is out campaigning. And Mitch has already said that while the House will be in recess, the Senate has the Kavanaugh confirmation to deal with, not to mention Mitch wanting to keep Senate Democrats in DC and from being able to campaign at all, so Dems will be on hand if it looks like Trump gets an itchy trigger finger.
Anyway, we'll see. My gut tells me Trump will try to fire some people, he has in the past and was only talked down because WH lawyer Don McGahn threatened to quit if he did. I think as Mueller keeps making his life worse, Trump will be more and more incensed until he finally loses his temper.