Thursday, October 27, 2016

All-Day Impeachment Buffet

As Alex Seitz-Wald and Benjy Sarlin remind us, the move by House Republicans to begin the impeachment process of a President Hillary Clinton will officially begin on November 9th.

In the last few weeks alone, dozens of House Republicans have demanded that a special prosecutor investigate the Clinton Foundation for possible conflicts of interest. Sen. Ted Cruz has called for a "serious criminal investigation" into a Democratic operative featured in a sting video by conservative activist James O'Keefe. And Speaker Paul Ryan promised "aggressive oversight work in the House" of an alleged "quid pro quo" deal between the FBI and the State Department over reclassifying an email on Clinton's private server. 
Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who would likely serve as the chief antagonist of a second Clinton White House as chair the House Oversight Committee, told Fox News last week the "quid pro quo" claim alone was worth at least "four new hearings," claiming it was a "flashing red light of potential criminality." 
Both the FBI and State Department say no quid pro quo took place, and that the incident was a misunderstanding. But the episode is one of many that conservative commentators, watchdog groups and lawmakers will almost certainly return to well after election day. 
"You're going to still have a clamor for a serious criminal investigation of Mrs. Clinton's conduct with respect to her emails and the [Clinton] Foundation," Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, which has spearheaded legal efforts against Bill and Hillary Clinton for years, told NBC News. "There's been no systematic investigation of various issues." 

You know, except for the systematic investigation of various issues by multiple House Republican committees, the FBI, the State Department, and several inspectors general, just to name a few.

After Trump spent months telling the party's base the election is rigged, Republicans in oversight roles will face tremendous pressure to expose Clinton's perceived corruption
"I know this generation of Republican leaders is loathe to exercise these tolls, but impeachment is something that's relevant," said Fitton, who criticizes Republican lawmakers for failing to pre-emptively impeach Clinton. "They see [the oversight process] as an opportunity in some measure to keep their opponents off-kilter, but they don't want to do the substantive and principled work to truly hold corrupt politicians, or the administration, or anyone accountable."

So yes, for all you folks going "Thank god the election will be over in two weeks" please remember that impeachment proceedings will be getting underway almost immediately.  And when they do happen, if you thought Benghazi and emailgate and Operation Fast and Furious GOP witch hunts were fun, expect the entire GOP House under a Clinton administration to be one long multi-year investigation that goes nowhere.

Jason Chaffetz, the Utah congressman wrapping up his first term atop the powerful House Oversight Committee, unendorsed Donald Trump weeks ago. That freed him up to prepare for something else: spending years, come January, probing the record of a President Hillary Clinton. 
It’s a target-rich environment,” the Republican said in an interview in Salt Lake City’s suburbs. “Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.”
Unless of course the Democrats manage to win the House back, in which case impeachment proceedings in a lame duck session will begin immediately while GOP House members still have gavels to bang.  And should the GOP control the Senate too, well, expect the unfilled seat of the late Justice Scalia to remain empty along with all other federal bench appointments if Sen. Ted Cruz has anything to say about it.

Speaking to reporters after a campaign rally for a Republican U.S. Senate candidate here, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said that there was “precedent” for a Supreme Court with fewer than nine justices — appearing to suggest that the blockade on nominee Merrick Garland could last past the election.

“You know, I think there will be plenty of time for debate on that issue,” said Cruz, when he was asked whether a Republican-controlled Senate should hold votes on a President Hillary Clinton’s nominees. “There is certainly long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices. I would note, just recently, that Justice Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have.”

A debate I'm sure that will last four years at the minimum.  Of course, voters can do something about that now.  Let's hope they do. Enjoy!

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