Congressional Democrats Relieved They Don't Have to Push Impeachment

Photo: Drew Angerer (Getty)

Donald Trump is president. As the New Yorker’s Osita Nwanevu said last night, that alone should have been reason for Democrats to pursue impeachment right from the beginning. Nancy Pelosi has not agreed, warning Democrats not to give a political “gift” to the Republicans by talking impeachment once they took the House. With Robert Mueller’s decision not to recommend obstruction of justice charges against the president, Politico reports that “Pelosi’s caution has been vindicated.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the chair of the Democratic caucus, used the news as a reason to call for “common ground” with Trump.

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To echo Nwanevu, it is objectively pretty insane that the leader of the opposition party might feel relieved that she doesn’t have to try and impeach Donald Trump. It is also quite barmy that the closure of one avenue of possible impeachment (collusion) seems to have precluded all the other many things Trump ought to be impeached over—like his profiting from the presidency at Mar-a-Lago and the Trump Hotel in DC.

Pelosi and the Democrats might well be absolutely right to think that pursuing impeachment is mistaken—not least because it would result in a President Pence, but also because the media ecosystem is completely incapable of recognizing when Republicans are dishonestly claiming unfair treatment, conspiracy, and bias against them, which is all the time, every time they do it. There is absolutely merit to the idea, floated in the Politico article by a Democratic aide, that it has to be a “kill shot” in the actual system we have. But what this does is prove that the actual system we have is not functional, and that the U.S. Constitution is inadequately prepared to handle something like this.

Pelosi previously said agreement on the need to impeach would have to be “bipartisan,” and based simply on the numbers in the Senate, she’s right. But the fact that we need the consent of an intransigent, nihilistic party, and require nothing short of video of Donald Trump kicking a toddler into a nuclear reactor to impeach him, ought to be a clue that this whole thing is not working particularly well.

Yes, part of the reason that impeachment is so hard is the success the conservative movement has had in degrading and corrupting American democracy—but they did do that, and the hallowed processes of this democracy, the marketplace of ideas and checks and balances, were unable to stop them. The GOP has stacked the judiciary for generations to come and they have gamed the media to the point where it’s hard to suggest impeaching the president who paid secret hush money to his mistress via his dipshit lawyer in order to win an election.

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The Founders did not see the Federalist Society coming. They did not anticipate having one of two major parties devoted entirely to plutocratic plunder, and being able to do so because of the financial and institutional support of a mega-wealthy elite. They whiffed on that one.

A functioning democracy would not allow a President Trump to persist. The fact that Pelosi and her fellow Democrats might be breathing a sigh of relief at not having to impeach him isn’t great from a Democratic standpoint, or a democratic one.

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About the author

Libby Watson

Splinter politics writer. libby.watson@splinternews.com