Democrats Should Drag Out Trump’s Impeachment as Long as Possible
There’s a way to make Republicans pay for defending the president’s abuses of power
After two weeks of often explosive testimony in the impeachment inquiry, Democrats may try to wrap it up quickly, something Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemed intent on from the beginning.
But that would be a mistake. The hearings should go on — and on and on — until no stone is left unturned. Already, much more is emerging in the Ukraine bribery plot. Democrats are reported to now have video and audio from one of Rudy Giuliani’s indicted associates. A White House review of emails reportedly shows a cover-up was engineered regarding the hold on funds going to Ukraine after officials learned they’d been discovered by the whistleblower. Rep. Devin Nunes, top Republican on the House intelligence committee leading the impeachment inquiry, allegedly met with an ex-Ukraine official in Vienna to get information on Joe Biden (just like Trump’s henchmen).
Meanwhile, courts may still force key witnesses to testify, such as former national security adviser John Bolton and White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Monday, in a significant development in this regard, a federal judge ruled that former White House Counsel Don McGahn must testify before Congress.
Why stop investigating now and let Republicans and President Trump off the hook so easily?
Already the Republican defense of Trump has shifted as the facts have become slam dunk against him. Take so-called moderates like Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican from Texas who’s been critical of Trump’s actions in the past but, like all Republicans, is mindful of his future. Hurd and others like him have been wriggling out of supporting impeachment in recent days by claiming what Trump did was inappropriate or wrong but doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment. This is pathetic and, ultimately, a fallacy. Democrats must make Hurd and others own every grave abuse and high crime Trump has committed or be forced to finally cave under the weight of impeachable offenses.
To do that, not only should further evidence be drawn out on the Ukraine scheme, but the inquiry must also be expanded to include collusion and obstruction raised in the Mueller report (and revelations in Roger Stone’s trial point to Trump having lied to Mueller), the various alleged violations of the emoluments clause by Trump and his family, and myriad other abuses of power by Trump.
There’s little downside for Democrats to keep the hearings going, but there’s much to gain. By continuing the attack, Democrats keep the GOP and Republicans on defense, constantly worried about what comes next. GOP Senate leaders are now planning a two-week trial and getting it out of the way before the general election. Trump then will spend 10 months crowing about how he was acquitted, presuming it goes as it seems now, with enough Republicans sticking with him. Instead, Democrats should give Trump the least amount of time possible to use acquittal to his advantage and pile up the charges Republicans would be forced to dismiss if they acquit.
The GOP has threatened to mess with the Democrats’ presidential primaries by holding the trial close to or during the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary. Democrats can turn that around and mess with the GOP’s calendar, too.
The first primary for those embattled GOP senators who are up for reelection is on March 3 in North Carolina, a state Trump barely carried in 2016. If Senator Thom Tillis is hugging Trump now, fearful of a primary challenger, he might be racing to the center once the primary is over and more likely to vote for impeachment. The same could go for Nebraska’s Ben Sasse, who will be through his primary in May, and even for Joni Ernst in Iowa, Susan Collins in Maine, and Cory Gardner in Colorado, all of whom may face Republican primary challengers in June.
Flushing out more evidence and expanding the inquiry may cause some Republicans in both the House and Senate to defect. But even if they don’t, there would be consequences for those who stick by Trump if he loses the election. Democrats aren’t content to give Trump a pass. Why should they give one to his enablers?