It Really Is Time. This Is a Fight for the Essential Integrity of the Constitution.

Charles P. Pierce
Photo credit: Doug Mills - Getty Images

From Esquire

On Tuesday morning, on the electric Twitter machine, I saw a picture that was both remarkable, and remarkably sad. Congressman Justin Amash, Republican of Michigan, had a group of high school students sitting on the steps of the U.S, Capitol, and he was explaining to them what the impeachment process is, and why Amash has called for it, bringing down upon his head the wrath of flying monkeys everywhere.

Now, let's be honest. If a sea cucumber ran against Justin Amash, I'd vote for it. But there's no question that Amash is sincere. He's stood in against the Chimpanzee Escadrille, and against his own caucus, and he has come back for more. And there he is, in front of the most prominent symbol of American legislative power, explaining to people more open-minded than his fellow Republicans are how it's time for that power to be engaged fully against a renegade and criminal presidency. Of course, none of those kids outside the building can vote inside, and that's what makes the photo so very sad. Amash's seminar al fresco would have benefitted legislators of both parties.

It really is time. Don McGahn blew off the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning, relying on a fanciful legal opinion that had no basis in the law. And, if this account in Politico is to be believed, the passions are rising within the majority caucus of the House.

[Jamie] Raskin - a former law professor - said he wasn't advocating impeaching Trump but suggested that opening an impeachment inquiry would strengthen their legal position while allowing Democrats to move forward with their legislative agenda. Pelosi dismissed this argument, asking Raskin whether he wanted to shut down the other five committees working on Trump investigations in favor of the Judiciary Committee.

“You want to tell Elijah Cummings to go home?” Pelosi quipped, referring to the chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee. And in a Democratic Steering and Policy Committee meeting, Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee stood up and demanded Trump's impeachment. Pelosi then countered, "This is not about politics, it's about what's best for the American people," said a member who attended the meeting...

...During the Steering and Policy Committee meeting, Cohen said President Bill Clinton faced impeachment proceedings “over sex” while Trump is “raping the country,” according to two sources in the room. Cohen later confirmed his remarks. Pelosi pushed back on Cohen during the meeting and his assertion that she was simply afraid impeachment would cost her the House majority. “This isn’t about politics at all. It’s about patriotism. It’s about the strength we need to have to see things through,” Pelosi said, according to an aide in the room .

It is reported that the meetings got a little fiery. Good. They should be. This is not a question for the timid nor an issue for soft words. There should be a brawl over this matter, and, if you think these intra-party squabbles are loud, wait until an impeachment inquiry opens up. My guess is that civility will not be a priority, and good for that, too. Excising the corruption that entered the Republican party in the 1980s, and entered the White House in 2017, never was going to be gentle.

Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla - Getty Images

It really is time. Nobody supported Nancy Pelosi more than I did when lightweights like Tim Ryan and Seth Moulton came after her last year. I still don't see a legislative tactician of her caliber anywhere else in the caucus. But this is now beyond tactics, no matter how skillfully they might be deployed. This is a fight for the essential integrity of the Constitution, and pre-emptively ruling out any weapon in that battle is dereliction of the first order. It has been argued that an impeachment inquiry would divert legislative energy from other important issues and, what the hell, impeachment has no chance in the Senate anyway. So much of the leadership's strategy flows from that conviction. When Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, the chair of the House Democratic Caucus, says, as he did Tuesday morning, that the Democratic triumphs in 2018 came because of candidates who "did not run on impeachment, did not run on collusion, did not run on obstruction," his point is that, in one way or another, impeachment is a political loser and that the new House majority has other important business before it.

But the simple fact is that no bill produced by a Democratic House has a chance in Mitch McConnell's Senate. In this, impeachment is no different from Medicare For All or a Green New Deal or a big infrastructure package or humane immigration reform. If passage in the Senate is the sine qua non for doing something in the House, then Pelosi, Jeffries and the rest of their caucus simply should give up and go home for the summer. In addition, an impeachment inquiry, which is all Raskin and the others were asking for, can serve as a powerful educational tool for the general public. The cause of removing a reality-show president needs a reality show of its own-a real one, with witnesses and testimony.

It really is time. We are not far from the day when some court-maybe even the Supreme Court-tells the president* to do something, and he tells the court to get stuffed. It will be too late to fire up the machine then. Better to have it warmed up and running already.


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