I have long defended Nancy Pelosi on the grounds that she’s a shrewd and effective legislator. I’ve been reminded lately, ruefully, that that isn’t the entirety of the job. And here, she’s just failing the republic itself:
“Trump is goading us to impeach him,” she said at an event in New York City hosted by the Cornell University Institute of Politics and Global Affairs. “That’s what he’s doing. Every single day, he’s just like taunting, taunting, taunting because he knows that it would be very divisive in the country, but he doesn’t really care. He just wants to solidify his base.”
By way of context: Some
370 710 and (counting) former Federal DOJ prosecutors said that Trump would be indicted for obstruction of justice, were he not excluded from that by the DOJ itself – leaving that decision up to Congress.
Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.
The Mueller report describes several acts that satisfy all of the elements for an obstruction charge: conduct that obstructed or attempted to obstruct the truth-finding process, as to which the evidence of corrupt intent and connection to pending proceedings is overwhelming. These include:
· The President’s efforts to fire Mueller and to falsify evidence about that effort;
· The President’s efforts to limit the scope of Mueller’s investigation to exclude his conduct; and
· The President’s efforts to prevent witnesses from cooperating with investigators probing him and his campaign.
I have so many questions for Pelosi, and for any House Democrat:
- Why are we giving Trump’s base veto power over what the House does?
- Should we be giving political calculations this much consideration? How does she, or Trump, know how this will affect the 2020 elections?
- As long as politics enters into it: What about the Democratic base? Will failure to act depress Democratic turnout, since Democrats aren’t really fighting for us (“Us” in the broadest possible sense) anyway?
- Shall GOP Senators not be held to account for having to defend rampant obstruction of justice? Do we merely take their intransigence for granted — that they’re just scorpions, it’s in their nature, and they’re immune to public pressure?
- How can the Democratic Party claim to stand against corruption when they allow it to happen without using the tools at its disposal?
- Why not just do the principled thing, when obstruction of justice is this obvious, this harmful, and such a terrible precedent?
The difficulty of all this is that the GOP has aligned itself with a pure lawlessness, power for its own sake. There are no principles, no rules: Only we-win and you-lose. Trump is a symptom as well as an agent of this. If you stand against corruption, for the rule of law, for democracy itself, by definition that is now a partisan act. And that is uncomfortable. It wish it were not so. But it’s where we are. Of course the President will use this to gin up his base. But also every GOP Senator and Rep must be held to account for his corruption, since they have yoked themselves to him so thoroughly and abjectly. It is indeed a political process; I don’t see how it’s one where the GOP gets off lightly.
We often imagine in Massachusetts that because our reps are “good”, there’s nothing we can do to affect the national conversation beyond that. This is different: There is a role for Massachusetts Democrats to play. I’m going to call my rep Katherine Clark and try to get a statement. Maybe call your rep and ask what they’re doing.