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Thursday, July 26, 2018


11 angry Republicans

by Tom Sullivan

“For what? Impeach him for what?”

Republican chairman of the House Oversight committee Trey Gowdy told CBS News on July 15 that if Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a Donald Trump appointee, displeased the president, he could fire him with a tweet. House Freedom Caucus members led by Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) had suggested impeaching Rosenstein over delays in producing documents to their oversight committee. Meadows alleges Rosenstein is "intentionally withholding embarrassing documents" in their investigation of the FBI's surveillance of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser.

Rosenstein also happens to be the one Department of Justice official whose removal could allow the sitting president and his defenders to quash the Mueller investigation into Russian criminal interference in the 2016 elections and any Trump campaign involvement.

Meadows and Jordan finally introduced articles of impeachment against Rosenstein on Wednesday. House Republicans used the Justice Department's release over the weekend of a heavily redacted Page FISA warrant to bolster claims in the Devin Nunes memo that the FBI and DOJ improperly obtained warrants to surveil Page. Meadows's North Carolina colleague, however, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, tells CNN he finds there were "sound reasons" for the Page surveillance.

"I don't think I ever expressed that I thought the FISA application came up short," Burr said.

Democrats on the House panel concurred, arguing that the redacted FISA application proves many claims made by Nunes were deceiving and false, and intended to undermine the Russia investigation.

But the Freedom Caucus needs to distract attention from the worst two weeks of presidential performance in memory. Their impeachment play looks like political grandstanding to provide cover for the sitting president. The Washington Post notes Meadows used a similar ploy in filing a resolution to unseat unseat John Boehner as speaker of the House. Meadows did not force a vote, but threatened to for months until Boehner resigned. Jordan and Freedom Caucus allies tried and failed to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in December 2016, employing similar accusations of “stonewalling Congress, obstructing justice, and breaching the public trust.”

Ed Kilgore explains:

It’s unclear how much support this maneuver has from other House Republicans, much less from Paul Ryan. One clue is that the articles of impeachment were introduced on the eve of a five-week House recess, and were not advanced as a “privileged motion” involving urgent House priorities that might have triggered a quick vote. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine that they took this course of action without at least a tacit green light from the White House. It’s most likely that the whole gesture is just part of an effort to ratchet up the pressure on Rosenstein and DoJ to play along with their conspiracy theories, or perhaps to undermine Mueller by discrediting Rosenstein. Should Trump at some point decide to just get rid of the deputy AG, being able to say he was the target of a real live impeachment effort might be handy. It should go without saying that even if the House impeached Rosenstein, there’s no way the Senate would come up with the two-thirds margin necessary to make him the first non-presidential executive branch official since Ulysses Grant’s corrupt Secretary of War William Belknap to be removed from his position by Congress.
Calling it a stalling tactic, Senate Republicans object to Democrats' request for stacks of documents relating to the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Meanwhile‎, writes Elliot Hannon at Slate, 11 angry Republicans in the House have filed articles of impeachment against Rosenstein, "not to get to the bottom of anything in particular" but to "muddy the water, create confusion, and false equivalencies that might serve the president." For its part, the DOJ maintains it has worked to produce the volumes of documents lawmakers requested, even writing new software to search for them.

Just the latest installment of bad-faith politics from Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, and the Freedom Caucus.

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