With Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani essentially admitting they tried to enlist the help of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in smearing former Vice President Joe Biden and his son ahead of the 2020 presidential election, impeachment calls by Trump’s critics are stronger than ever.
But even that doesn’t appear to be enough evidence for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to call for Trump’s impeachment. Which begs the question: Is any of Trump’s behavior dangerous or criminal enough for Pelosi to start impeachment proceedings against the president?
In an interview with NPR, Pelosi said she hadn’t changed her mind on impeachment. Instead, she called for the passage of a law that would allow future presidents to be indicted if they commit a crime. Of course, Trump and his Republican allies in the Senate would never allow that to happen. And if such a law were eventually passed, it would be too late to stop Trump.
“I do think that we will have to pass some laws that will have clarity for future presidents. [A] president should be indicted, if he’s committed a wrongdoing — any president. There is nothing anyplace that says the president should not be indicted,” Pelosi told NPR.
Curiously, in criticizing Trump’s behavior while in office, Pelosi seemed to make an argument in favor of impeaching Trump.
“The Founders could never suspect that a president would be so abusive of the Constitution of the United States, that the separation of powers would be irrelevant to him and that he would continue, any president would continue, to withhold facts from the Congress, which are part of the constitutional right of inquiry,” Pelosi said.
She also acknowledged that she believes the administration is “breaking the law” by refusing to submit a credible whistleblower complaint to Congress, as required by law.
Pelosi said there would be “serious repercussions” for Trump and his administration if reports that he did try to pressure Ukrainian officials to meddle in U.S. elections are true.
Nevertheless, according to NPR, Pelosi still believes that impeachment hearings would “alienate” swing voters and harm Democrats in 2020. I don’t know how many ways there are to articulate a counterargument to this point, but we’ve pretty much covered them all here at Splinter.
If impeachment is off the table, what other “serious repercussions” are there?
Among those calling for Trump’s impeachment in light of the Ukraine scandal are several Democratic presidential candidates.
In a thread on Twitter, Sen. Elizabeth Warren said that Congress had a duty to impeach Trump following the Mueller report on Russia’s attacks on U.S. elections, and the president’s alleged obstruction of that investigation. “By failing to act,” Warren wrote, “Congress is complicit in Trump’s latest attempt to solicit foreign interference to aid him in US elections. Do your constitutional duty and impeach the president.”
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary and Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro called Trump a “criminal” and said he “must be impeached immediately.”
Sen. Cory Booker and Beto O’Rourke issued similar statements.
Speaking to reporters in Iowa on Friday, Sen. Kamala Harris criticized Trump for failing to understand “what it means to be President of the United States.” She vowed to support the whistleblower who brought the allegations forward in a complaint to the Intelligence Community Inspector General.
“We have your back,” Harris said of the whistleblower, whose identity is unknown but who is believed to be a member of the intelligence community. She also urged Trump to “leave Joe Biden alone.”
While Harris may have promised to have the whistleblower’s back, given Pelosi’s continuous refusal to impeach Trump, the question shifts to whether or not Congress has our backs. So far, not so much. Maybe that will change. Or maybe it won’t.
Update, Sunday, 2:13 p.m.: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement on Sunday referring to the Trump-Ukraine scandal. She did not call for Trump’s impeachment, although some commentators might infer that, particularly because of the strong language she uses as the end of the statement. However, it’s hard to tell, and it may just be Pelosi speak for now it’s really gonna get serious. Watch out!
Judge for yourself:
On Thursday, Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire will appear before the House Intelligence Committee in an open hearing. At that time, we expect him to obey the law and turn over the whistleblower’s full complaint to the Committee. We also expect that he will establish a path for the whistleblower to speak directly to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees as required by law.
The Intelligence Community Inspector General, who was appointed by President Trump, has determined that the complaint is both of “urgent concern and credible,” and its disclosure “relates to one of the most significant and important of the Director of National Intelligence’s responsibilities to the American people.”
The Administration’s blocking of Acting DNI Maguire from providing Congress with the whistleblower complaint calls upon him to violate the federal statute, which unequivocally states that the DNI “shall” provide Congress this information. The Administration is endangering our national security and having a chilling effect on any future whistleblower who sees wrongdoing.
We must be sure that the President and his Administration are always conducting our national security and foreign policy in the best interest of the American people, not the President’s personal or political interest.
I am calling on Republicans to join us in insisting that the Acting DNI obey the law as we seek the truth to protect the American people and our Constitution.
This violation is about our national security. The Inspector General determined that the matter is “urgent” and therefore we face an emergency that must be addressed immediately.
If the Administration persists in blocking this whistleblower from disclosing to Congress a serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the President, they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation.
Thank you for your patriotism.