Democrats Eager to Mess This Up

Photo: J. Scott Applewhite (AP)

If you were wondering how long it was going to take the House Democrats to strongly consider tying one hand behind their back while investigating whether or not to impeach Donald Trump, the answer appears to be “less than 24 hours.”

Politico reports that, following the release of a declassified memo describing a call in which Trump repeatedly asked Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to work with Attorney General William Barr and Rudy Giuliani in investigating Hunter Biden, Democrats are rapidly “coalescing around a strategy to narrow the focus of their impeachment inquiry” to Trump’s interactions with the Ukrainian president.

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There appear to be two reasons for pursuing this strategy: The first is that this issue is one that actually unites the Democratic caucus, unlike all of the other allegations of corruption and grift that they’ve been investigating him for over the past nine months. The second is that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her allies appear to think that the Ukraine issue is easier for the public to understand, which seems highly condescending. Per Politico:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered the suggestion during a leadership meeting on Wednesday morning, according to two people in the meeting, adding that national security should be a key focus.

“This has clarity and understanding in the eyes of the American people,” Pelosi told her leadership team, according to a source with knowledge of the meeting. “If we do articles, then we can include other things.”

While Politico stressed that no formal decisions have been made yet, even longtime impeachment advocates backed the reasoning. “I think focusing on this Ukrainian scandal singularly is important,” Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat and Tier-1 Resistance Guy, told Politico. “I think we have to act quickly. But not with haste.”

All of this seems to be ass-backwards. While it would make sense to ultimately narrow the articles of impeachment down to the worst and most flagrantly impeachable things that Trump has done in office, it seems completely ridiculous to narrow the inquiry itself—to the extent that this distinction carries any weight—to this Ukraine call.

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For one thing, six different House committees are currently pursuing 10 other separate investigations into Trump, his businesses, his campaign, his inauguration, and his presidency, and have so for months. Immediately abandoning all of that for this, and this alone, sends the message that all of those hearings and subpoenas are irrelevant. It’s pertinent to not only this investigation but the whole question of impeachment itself whether or not the president used his political career to enrich himself, or whether or not he was a big old tax cheat, or whether he was involved in money laundering, and so on.

Apparently not, as the Washington Post reported:

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And we don’t even know the total sum of what’s in the whistleblower’s complaint yet—according to the New York Times, intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson said the complaint cited “multiple actions”; the House Intelligence Committee won’t know until later Wednesday. So why would you “narrow” the impeachment inquiry to Trump’s dealings with Ukraine before you have a full understanding of what, exactly, the complaint entails?

With the whistleblower complaint and the bewildering release of this memo, the Democrats were handed a Christmas gift three months early. It remains to be seen whether or not they’ll blow it.

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