Tuesday, December 10, 2019

GOP's Faulty Memory

In his opening statement Monday, House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins (not this Doug Collins) of Georgia repeated a theme often struck by Republicans on his committee, on the Intelligence Committee, and elsewhere. He remarked 

In 2016, the American people had the audacity to elect, in Democrats’ eyes, the wrong person as president. That is the entire reason we are here. Democrats, and their allies in the media and the permanent federal bureaucracy, are furious at the American people. They cannot abide as president a man who promised American voters he would shake up Washington. The man who said he would work for them — the Forgotten Man and Woman — not the entrenched political elites.

Just 19 minutes after noon on Inauguration Day, 2017, the Washington Post ran the headline: “The Campaign to Impeach President Trump Has Begun.” Mark Zaid, who would later become the attorney for the infamous whistleblower, tweeted in January 2017 that a “coup has started,” and that “impeachment will follow ultimately.” In May of this year, Representative Al Green said, “If we don’t impeach the president, he will get reelected.” It appears that Representative Green won the argument within the Democratic caucus.

As Steve M notes, this refers to a group which had urged impeachment of President Trump over enoluments, and whose website ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org,  has been dormant since July 15, 2019. 

There is no indication that this organization had any influence whatsoever on Speaker Pelosi's decision to forge ahead with an impeachment inquiry, nor upon any Democrat who has supported the inquiry or impeachment itself. 

No Democratic officeholder has been linked to the group. However, there are members of Congress who supported impeachment of a President even before inauguration.  On November 4, 2016 Vanity Fair reported that Republican pols were anticipating a victory by Hillary Clinton and

“There's been nothing like this where you can have potential criminal charges,” New York Rep. Peter King said in a radio interview Tuesday. “You really could have a constitutional crisis here,” he added, echoing a similar charge by Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert and Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.

Other Republicans are already using the “I” word. “Assuming she wins, and the investigation goes forward, and it looks like an indictment is pending, at that point in time, under the Constitution, the House of Representatives would engage in an impeachment trial," Texas Rep. Michael McCaul said on Fox News. “They would go to the Senate and impeachment proceedings and removal would take place.” Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson declared that Clinton could be impeached for “high crime or misdemeanor.” And Donald Trump, who has turned “lock her up” into a rallying cry at his campaign stops, said Wednesday that Clinton would be impeached just as surely as Bill Clinton was. “You know it’s going to happen. And in all fairness, we went through it with her husband. He was impeached,” the Republican nominee said at a rally in Florida Wednesday, adding that Hillary is “most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency.”

These aren't mere conservative activists or well-connected Republican lawyers.They were Republican Representatives and Senators who in a few cases already had decided to encourage impeachment and, in a larger number of instances, congressional members who were gearing up for investigations of President Hillary Clinton.

Democrats deliberated carefully, acted deliberately, and chose to ignore enoluments and other abuses of power in favor of a focus on one narrow, albeit extremely significant, issue. The only question, had Hillary Clinton been elected, is whether the GOP would have waited till she was inaugurated on January 20, 2017.

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