It looks like the Democrats did a gut check

It looks like the Democrats did a gut check

by digby

I don't know if the Democrats will hold impeachment hearings but taking them off the table was a big mistake and I'm happy to see them walking that back at least. But I think it's still incumbent on grassroots Democrats to keep the heat on about this. It's possible that the various investigations alone will do the job and seriously degrade Trump's already weak support. Who knows? Maybe he'll even decide to pardon himself and all his cronies and then resign. (Or have Mike Pence do it --- it wouldn't be the first time.) But unless the Democratic base makes the party keep the pressure on Trump by keeping impeachment out there as a threat there is every chance they will end up being feckless and weak and Trump will be emboldened and strengthened. That's not good.

Here's where they stand today. And it's better than what we were hearing on Friday:


Rep. Adam Schiff said Sunday congressional Democrats may take up impeachment in the wake of the release of the special counsel report, but will consider the political environment when determining any action.

Schiff told "This Week" co-anchor Martha Raddatz the decision whether to begin proceedings to impeach President Donald Trump will be made based on the "best interests of the country."

Raddatz asked the congressman, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, about calls by 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., for the House to open impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

On Friday, Warren tweeted that the "severity of [the president's] misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States."

Asked at a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Saturday if she believed the president should not only face impeachment proceedings but be impeached, Warren said "yes" in response.

Schiff, D-California, said Warren "makes an important point," but added that Democrats will have to take the "political environment" into consideration when deciding whether to undertake impeachment.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler on Sunday did not rule out the prospect of impeaching President Donald Trump over allegations detailed in the Mueller report, arguing Congress has to see the full unredacted report.

Nadler, D-N.Y., said in an interview on Sunday’s “Meet The Press” that Congress will “have to hear from” both Attorney General William Barr and special counsel Robert Mueller, as well as obtain the unredacted report before coming to a conclusion on impeachment.

Nadler oversees the committee with jurisdiction over impeachment proceedings.

“Some of this would be impeachable,” Nadler said of the accusations detailed in the report, which was released Friday. “Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable.”

Mueller’s report analyzed both the Russian government’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election, as well as the question of whether Trump or his top allies tried to obstruct the investigation.

While Mueller wrote that “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government,” he did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump committed the crime of obstruction of justice.

“The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” Mueller wrote.

Among those efforts were attempts to fire the special counsel and the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

In one instance, Mueller’s report says that White House counsel Don McGahn refused to fire Mueller despite an order from Trump. And when that encounter was eventually reported publicly, McGahn refused Trump’s request to deny the story.

Nadler on Sunday added that on top of hearing from Mueller and Barr, Congress will call McGahn to testify.

He also questioned why Mueller didn't charge Donald Trump Jr. "and others" who met with Russians during an infamous meeting at Trump Tower that they believed to be about obtaining dirt on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

"He said that he didn't charge them because you couldn't prove that they willfully intended to commit a crime," Nadler said of Mueller.

"All you have to prove for conspiracy is that they entered into a meeting of the minds to do something wrong and had one overt act. They entered into a meeting of the minds to attend a meeting to get stolen material on Hillary. They went to the meeting, that's conspiracy."

In a statement released Thursday, Donald Trump Jr.'s attorney, Alan Futerfas, argued that the report exonerated his client.

"The Report confirms that the June 9, 2016 meeting was just what Don said it was, and nothing more, and that there was nothing improper about potentially listening to information," he said.

While Mueller declined to file a charge on obstruction against President Trump, he wrote that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

The report also notes that a “criminal accusation against a sitting President would place burdens on the President’s capacity to govern and potentially preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct.”

Based on that comment, some Democrats, including presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have already begun to call for impeachment proceedings based on the report. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote Thursday night in a letter to members that they will discuss the next step forward but promised that “Congress will not be silent.”

I think it's obvious that they should either open a select committee on The Russia Investigation or start impeachment hearings in order to focus the nation on exactly what happened and Trump and his cronies reaction to it. It's appalling and frankly, frightening. The public needs to see this narrative laid out in public hearings. I still think it's possible that it will have an effect on enough people to break the Trump fever among Republicans although I'm not holding my breath. But at least there will be a comprehensible storyline to bring show the public exactly what it is the GOP officials are defending.

I am not cynical enough yet to believe that a fairly large majority of this country doesn't understand that the country is in danger if this corruption, incompetence and betrayal is now business as usual by our political leaders and worse, that nobody in power has the stomach or the will to do anything about it. It's a recipe for despair.