The messaging challenge for Democrats surrounding impeachment is as follows: It is obvious that Donald Trump should be impeached, for about a thousand different crime and crime-adjacent things. But the Democratic leadership has decided it is not worth trying because the Republica-led Senate would vote it down, although, as our former colleague Alex Pareene noted last week, that doesn’t stop them supporting the passage of legislation that will never pass.
Thus, they have to come up with ways to say that they will pursue justice for Trump, without promising that they’ll actually do that. A new Politico story reveals this week’s attempt to square this circle, in a letter sent by Nancy Pelosi:
“While our views range from proceeding to investigate the findings of the Mueller report or proceeding directly to impeachment, we all firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth,” Pelosi wrote.
“As we proceed to uncover the truth and present additional needed reforms to protect our democracy, we must show the American people we are proceeding free from passion or prejudice, strictly on the presentation of fact.”
See? Truth. We all agree that we must find the truth. Facts, and the truth, without prejudice.
The question of what happens when we find that truth—if one of those established facts turns out to be that Donald Trump is indeed profiting off his businesses in office illegally, or that he obstructed justice—goes unanswered. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, for example, who chairs the committee that would begin impeachment hearings, said yesterday: “We may get to that. We may not. As I’ve said before, it is our job to go through all the evidence, all the information we can get.”
Maybe that is your job, but it is also your job to impeach the president if it turns out to be necessary. Nothing that currently prevents them from doing this—by their own account, the intransigence of the GOP—will change on the basis of their investigation, unless they uncover footage of Trump saying he wants to raise taxes on the rich.
So this is what we are left with. Empty commitments to the Facts, with clearly no intent to act upon those facts. Truth, and no consequences.