Dear Commons Community,
Yesterday was the day that Washington watchers have been waiting for as Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before two House Committees. There was little in the way of new revelations and both Democrats and Republicans claimed their side won. I feel confident that Mueller’s testimony did not sway many people’s opinions of his investigation and Trump’s cupability. So where do we go from here. New York Times columnist, Charles Blow, gives us his opinion in a piece entitled, Mueller Testified. Now What? and essentially examines whether these hearings will be enough for Democratic leaders to pursue impeachment. Not likely!
Below is his entire column.
Mueller Testified. Now What?
Will the results of this congressional hearing be enough for the Democratic leaders to pursue impeachment?
Well folks, there you have it. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has completed his testimony. There are no more shoes to drop.
He has confirmed, publicly, the major details of his voluminous report. Our 2016 election came under massive attack by the Russians, and those efforts continue. The goal was to help Trump’s electoral prospects. People in the Trump campaign welcomed the efforts. Trump stood to gain financially from relationships with Russia through the building of a Trump Tower in Moscow.
He also confirmed the multiple ways that Trump sought to obstruct his investigation. He clarified that his office had not made a determination as to when Trump had committed a crime, because of internal Department of Justice guidance that states a sitting president couldn’t be indicted. He affirmed that Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice.
And, in what may be the most resonant sound bite, he underscored, contrary to the lie Trump keeps telling, that Trump was in fact not fully exonerated by his findings.
This is the hearing the Democratic leadership seemed to suggest they were waiting for and needed to determine whether or not to move forward to open an impeachment.
Even though they knew that Mueller would not go beyond the finding and scope of his report — he said as much before being summoned to the hill — they made Americans believe that the mere act of him saying out loud and on television what most Americans refused to take the time to read would massively move public attention.
I’m not sure how or to what degree Wednesday’s theater will sway the public. I suspect that the impact will be negligible. Republicans are fully in the tank for Trump. There are a sizable group of people who identify as independent but in fact are not.
Most independents lean right or left, consistently so, and vote that way. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey report released in March found that of the 38 percent of self-described independents, only 7 percent declined to lean right or left.
And, the Democratic leadership has basically left liberals in a lurch. They refused to say upfront, forthrightly and consistently that Trump had committed crimes in office that rose to the level of impeachable offenses. They never made that case to the American people, particularly those in their base.
They wanted someone or something to force their hand. They waited on the Mueller report. That wasn’t enough. They waited for Wednesday’s hearing. I doubt that will be enough.
They told us that there was such a thing as a “failed impeachment,” meaning that if the Senate was unlikely to convict and remove, an impeachment vote in the House was meaningless.
They told us that impeachment was too “divisive” and should not be undertaken unless the impetus was “overwhelming and bipartisan.”
People were told that opening an impeachment inquiry would be a mistake because that’s what Trump wants to energize his base — particularly a failure to convict in the Senate — and that it would virtually guarantee his re-election.
None of this washes with me. While Democrats worry about tearing the country apart, Trump is doing just that in real time. His base doesn’t need further energizing; they’re juiced up on sexism, xenophobia, racism and nationalism.
The truth is that the Democratic leadership has no intention whatsoever of opening an impeachment inquiry unless they are literally forced to do so. They know that Trump deserves to be impeached, but principle is being made to take a back seat to politics. They are scared of unsettling the people who voted for their newly elected moderates. They are scared that they might upset the white people who voted for Trump’s racism but might be open to considering a Democrat.
They think that there is a way to acquiesce their way into acceptance. They think that if Democrats are simply quiet and don’t make a fuss, that this fever will break and voters will be relieved of Trump’s corruption.
To me, they look like sniveling tacticians, more concerned with gaming things out that light us up.
Our political establishment has a moral duty to chastise this president for his corrupt and criminal behavior, even if it doesn’t lead to his removal. The Republicans have long ago made clear that they have abdicated their moral responsibility. But the Democratic leadership is dangling the possibility of moving forward before its base, which is hungry for action.
The leadership is conducting a long-term tease as a way of dampening a revolt. In truth, this is precisely where they want us to be: riled up but not in full revolt, angry that Trump is still in office without feeling that there is any option to remove him other than at the ballot.
Maybe history may judge this political calculation to have been a savvy one. Maybe. Or maybe, history will judge the anemic response to Trump’s steamrolling our laws, rules and conventions as setting the most dangerous of precedents for the future of the country, all out of fear.
Which of those historical judgments would look most devastating when committed to the page and entered into the record?