Impeach? You Bet. Then Investigate and Humiliate Trump and His Gang.
There are 12 days, and then four years, to hold this disaster of a president to account. Let’s get started.
At first, it felt like the Democrats would do what they always do. What Congressman Hakeem Jeffries said they’d do when he was asked whether the Democrats would impeach Donald Trump over his Michael Corleone phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. No, he said, in that typical Democratic way; he hadn’t viewed the transcript, and “we’re not looking backward, we’re looking forward.”
Dear God, not again.
When Congress adjourned after certifying the electoral count, after the most shocking terrorist-insurrectionist-riot in the history of this country, it looked like the Democrats were going to do their usual duck and cover in such situations. They all flew back to their districts, and it seemed as if that was that.
Then, boom. Twitter exploded. Columns were written by everyone from me to Bret Stephens. Phones were ringing off the hook in Democratic House members’ offices, and members themselves contacted Nancy Pelosi. This, everyone said, is exactly the time to look backward. And so Chuck Schumer came out with his very forceful statement early Thursday afternoon, followed by Pelosi’s a little later.
And now, word arrives Friday morning that there will be an impeachment vote by the middle of next week:
Jerry Nadler, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, has been saying that his committee can be bypassed and an article (or two or three or however many) can be taken straight to the floor. Debbie Dingell of Michigan said on TV Friday morning that a resolution is in the works that will mention Trump’s incitement to riot and his Raffensperger phone call.
They’re actually doing it.
I’ve been writing about these people for a long time. Back in the run-up to the Iraq War, when they were mostly all terrified of George W. Bush and Karl Rove and Ari Fleischer and being accused of hating freedom, I compared them to the dogs in Martin Seligman’s famous “learned helplessness” experiments, in which dogs were administered shocks to make them cower in a corner, then the shocks were stopped, and the dogs still cowered—they had learned that they shouldn’t even try to act. When it came to going nose-to-nose with Republicans at crunch time, that was the Democrats.
We’re looking forward, not backward became their euphemism of choice, long before Jeffries. When Barack Obama wouldn’t prosecute any bankers, his administration was looking forward, not backward. Ditto the pass for John Yoo and company on possible war crimes.
These things were debatable at the time, and I admit I saw both sides of the argument. Even up to the Ukraine impeachment, I was initially somewhat sympathetic to Pelosi’s resistance, mostly because I worried that it would repel swing voters. Then I figured out that with nearly a year to go at that time before the election, impeachment would be long forgotten, and I was all in.
In retrospect, for all of the equivocating on the matter by Pelosi and the Democrats, we can see that impeaching Trump over the Ukraine call did the Democrats no electoral harm at all. And history will reward them for having placed the mark on Trump’s forehead. It was the right move.
Now, wonder of wonders, it seems they may actually have learned from that. And that’s why this could be a pivotal movement in the party’s recent history.
The days of being afraid of the Republicans, of being called this or that, are over. It’s the Republicans who are the anti-patriots. Most of the GOP caucus in the House of Representatives, and a small-ish but still disturbing number of senators, just took a torch to the Constitution. They backed a march that when you get right down to it seeks at least the nullification of a legitimate election and at most the overthrow of the American government (not an exaggeration; just watch some of the interviews). And the president of the United States said he loves them.
Republicans are no longer, if they ever were, anything Democrats need to be afraid of. They are liars, anti-patriots, fascists. And no, Josh Hawley, Mister Yale Fucking Law School, you have no First Amendment claim against Simon & Schuster, and you know it. Shut up. Resign.
I read in the Times Friday morning that Democratic Hill aides are thinking through the details of how an impeachment could work. The House can impeach next week, and it turns out that the Senate trial can extend into the next Congress, when Schumer will hold the gavel. That means he can set the rules about witnesses.
Is conviction still a long shot? Sure. But at least the Democrats will be forcing the Republicans to go on record. If they think this behavior is not impeachable, America will know.
And after the trial, or during it, there’s something else the Democrats need to do to keep looking backward. Schumer and Pelosi need to empanel a special joint committee to investigate the insurrection. They need to pull their best people from the Senate and House, from every committee, their best questioners and their best investigators, and get to the bottom of what happened from Trump on down.
Example: Friday morning, the Alabama Political Reporter reported on the state’s attorney general, Steve Marshall, and a dark-money group he leads that may have helped organize the riot.
How many Steve Marshalls are out there? How many such groups are out there? How many state and local Republican officials were involved? Was there coordination with the White House, or the Trump family? Were certain elements of the Capitol Police and perhaps other law-enforcement entities in on it?
And so much more. Democrats in the next Congress must get to the bottom of this event. Looking backward is the best way to take this country forward.