Brian Beutler sums up the Democrats' failures in the post-Mueller report era pretty succinctly in his latest Crooked Media article. I know "failures" here is a strong word, but given two plus years of lies and perfidy, Democrats are still acting like this all can be fixed with a goddamn handshake over bourbon.
Democrats have allowed their fear of taking a lonely stand to metastasize into the complete collapse of the last-remaining mechanism of presidential accountability. They are also apparently willing to sidestep a debate over this decision by executing a Trump-like pivot to infrastructure, but in a manner that seems destined to provide Trump a political boost. What president wouldn’t salivate over the prospect of having $2 trillion at his disposal to rebuild the country’s failing infrastructure during an election year?
It didn’t have to be this way. Instead of preemptively abdicating the impeachment power, Democrats could have announced that they would not allow Republicans to quietly nullify it to protect Trump from accountability. Instead of conceding that, absent bipartisanship, “there will be no impeachment, no matter how high the crime or serious the misdemeanor,” they could have lamented that in a polarized time, when the right wing is drowning in propaganda, impeachment might have to be deployed as a partisan tool—a means of collective accountability for the high crimes and misdemeanors of a derelict president whose party has enabled him. Republicans might keep Trump in power, but they would have to vote on the proposition that his obstruction of justice, his felonious conduct, his betrayal and looting of the country is acceptable behavior in a president.
It bears repeating that there’s no consequence-free way for Democrats to take impeachment off the table. This is what the post-election panic about “normalization” was all about. Responding to his historic depredations with the ordinary tools of congressional oversight doesn’t just look weak, betray the anti-Trump resistance, and invite Democrats to make fatal diversionary missteps. It also invites a terrifying moral hazard into our political system. Trump’s opportunities to obstruct justice weren’t and aren’t limited to the Russia investigation—there are many more Trump-related investigations, including several under the supervision of an attorney general who has already asserted that Trump’s obstructive acts aren’t criminal. The Democratic bias toward inaction invites Trump to sabotage all of them.
It also invites Trump and his surrogates to solicit foreign autocrats and oligarchs to commit more computer crimes against his Democratic opponent. It invites Republicans in Congress to help Trump complete his coverup and enable his corruption, while they treat him as a righteous victim and (laughable as it sounds) lay claim to the mantle of ethical governance.
The combined effect of all this will be a cacophony of Benghazi-like propaganda hearings about SPYGATE and the Deep State, staged with the complete cooperation of William Barr, that drowns out Democrats as they waste months in court trying to enforce the subpoenas he and Trump proudly flout.
The last best hope for avoiding this nightmare scenario is for Democrats to find an onramp to impeachment in spite of their misgivings. Between their anti- and pro-impeachment poles, some Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden, have allowed that Trump’s stonewalling tactics might leave Democrats no choice but to begin an impeachment process reluctantly.
To be clear, the reluctance is unwarranted and the delay is harmful. The Democrats’ palpable impeachment panic, set against the GOP’s unwavering claims of vindication and lust for revenge, has moved public opinion away from impeachment, and that view will harden in the very districts Democrats think they’re protecting. Likewise, if Democrats move to impeach Trump on the basis of his stonewalling alone, it will convey a petty lack of principle and a sense that his documented misconduct is not itself the problem. But it would at least bring us into the realm of appropriate recourse—into an arena where we can learn that Robert Mueller has accused William Barr of sabotage, and the question of what to do about it has an obvious answer.
Mueller's response in his letters today made this all very clear. Barr's response in Senate hearings today was 100% predictable: No crimes were committed by Donald Trump, and he set the stage once again for the coming months of hearings and investigations into the FBI itself, into the Steele Dossier, and of course into Hillary Clinton.
I guarantee you Beutler is right about this. Dems are almost out of time. If they don't announce impeachment proceedings before Barr starts announcing new investigations, impeachment is effectively off the table, and the rest of 2019 will be defined by LOCK HER UP.
I know that rushing into this incorrectly will be devastating, but waiting too long will also be a catastrophe.
Senate Democrats are putting the brakes on impeachment chatter in the House, cautioning that lawmakers need to do more work before even thinking about moving forward on the issue.
A number of steps should be taken before there can be a serious discussion about impeaching President Trump, including hearing testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller, say several Senate Democrats.
They also want the House to review the unredacted version of his report and its underlying documentation.
“We ought to get the full report unredacted, get the underlying documentation, have Mueller come testify, and then we can make decisions on where to go,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday.
“We need to see the whole truth. Then we’ll make decisions on impeachment,” he added.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who are both running for president, have come out in favor of starting impeachment proceedings, but they’re alone among Senate Democrats so far.
And soon we'll be buried in HER EMAIL hearings.