|FLICKR / TONY WEBSTER|
In America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other. ~ THOMAS PAINE
It is time to impeach Donald Trump.
A delay of a week or even a month in initiating proceedings to remove a man who should be sleeping in a prison cell and not the White House, a man that the encyclopedic 448-page Mueller report makes profoundly clear is a menace to America and all that righteous Americans hold dear, provides new opportunities for that man to step up his reign of terror.
Democrats must stop playing into the president's hands.
Mueller was, pardon the pun, barred from bringing criminal charges because of an untested Department of Justice ruling that sitting presidents cannot be indicted. But the special prosecutor had a solution, writing that Congress "may apply the obstruction laws to the president's corrupt exercise of the powers of office [because it] accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law."
And that DOJ ruling notes that there is an alternative to indictment: The availability of impeachment as a remedy.
But the Democratic congressional leadership, led by Nancy Pelosi, wants to take the easy way out and kick the can down the road until the 2020 presidential election. There is a certain . . . uh, logic in a strategy through which the responsibility to get rid of Trump falls to voters and not Congress, although that is where it rightfully and constitutionally belongs especially given the urgency to act.
The "logic" is the implausibility of a Republican-controlled Senate, which would try Trump after the Democratic-controlled House voted to impeach, voting to convict him. But there is no such thing as a failed impeachment because it is akin to an indictment. Besides which, the Senate has never voted to convict in the two presidential impeachments -- Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.
Democrats are scared shitless of losing on impeachment and further roiling the storm-tossed American political seas, so they figure why not dump the whole mess in voters' laps?
In talking points sent to Democratic lawmakers following release last Thursday of a redacted version of the Mueller report, the leadership urged them to highlight the special counsel's devastating findings, criticize Attorney General William P. Barr's distorted summary of the report, and call out Trump for repeatedly trying to obstruct the investigation. There was not a word about impeachment.
All of this will come as a cruel joke to voters who drove the Blue Wave last November in the expectation that if Democrats took back control of the House, which they did in grand style, they would move expeditiously to impeach Trump, not merely investigate him to a fare-thee-well.
"We will have major hearings. Barr and Mueller are just the first," pledged House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler. "We will call many other people."
Of the 18 Democratic candidates running for president, none called for impeachment proceedings against Trump in the first 24 hours after the report's release. Since then, only Senator Elizabeth Warren and Julián Castro have said they support forcing Trump from office. In the main, Democratic pols are more interested in focusing on issues that "more directly" affect voters like wage and income disparities and access to affordable health care, which were two huge Blue Wave winners.
"I'm pretty sure he deserves to be [impeached]," media darling Pete Buttigieg said while campaigning over the weekend. "But Congress will have to figure procedurally what to do."
Pelosi has the audacity to say "He's just not worth it" of the potential political costs of impeachment.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says that it would not be "worthwhile" for House Democrats to pursue impeachment even after release of the Mueller report. "Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgment."
Translation: The man who is destroying America is not "worth" -- or alternately "worthwhile" -- to take on.
Jennifer Palmieri, a former senior aide to Hillary Clinton and President Obama, believes that Democrats have learned the wrong lessons from past attempts at impeachment like the Republican push to impeach President Clinton, which hampered Republicans’ midterm performance in 1998 amid voter concerns about investigative overreach.
"They look to the past, but you've got to look to the moment you're in. And look at the moment we're in," Palmieri says of fellow Democrats. "It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you stop pursuing what Mueller is putting in front of them, of course voters aren't going to think it's important. Voters respond to leadership."
Perhaps the "underlying evidence" that Nadler has demanded in his subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report will bring Democrats to their senses much as deputy presidential assistant Alexander Butterfield's revelation of the existence of Richard Nixon's White House tapes to the Ervin committee brought Democrats to their senses during Watergate.
But in the meantime, political trepidations overcome constitutional duty, which is freaking insane when you consider the strength of Trump's electoral position.
Trump the spinmaster is enjoying a personal high Gallup approval rating of 45 percent in April, up from 39 percent in March, and he controls the same national divisions and media landscape that he exploited to get to the Oval Office in the first place. He also remains the master of the barbed catchphrase, be it "drain the swamp" or "witch hunt."
Tone-deaf Democrats haven't even agreed upon a phrase, let alone one that effectively parries Trump's. "Just not worth it" is not a winner.
So there you have it.
The Democrats calling the shots are more interested in covering their asses because of an election nearly a year and a half away than dealing expeditiously with a true national emergency that voters expected them to confront head on. They not only are shirking their constitutional duty, they are further breaking the system of checks and balances that congressional Republicans have so capriciously undermined.
History, for what it's worth, will judge the Pelosis, Hoyers and Nadlers as cowards for lacking the moral compunction to try and perhaps fail on impeachment even if that allows Trump to claim further vindication rather than never having tried at all. And instead choosing to use the Mueller report not as a blunt instrument but as a fundraising device.
Trump eagerly climbed into bed with America's arch enemy in the greatest scandal since Russia stole atomic bomb secrets 70 years ago, lied about that for two years and broke the law to hide it. Obstruction of justice is a crime, okay?
Yes, the Russia scandal is much worse than Watergate. Yet Democrats are absolving Trump. Just like the Republicans who exulted when the president claimed "total and complete exoneration."
Click HERE for a searchable version of the Mueller report.
Click HERE for a comprehensive timeline of the Russia scandal
and related developments.