Littwin: Do Dems really think Mueller will provide the heat for impeachment fever?

Robert Mueller in 2012. (Photo by Medill DSC via Flicker:Creative Commons)

The impeachment wars are heating up again — just in time, I’d guess, for them to come to an end.

In the battle over whether to impeach Donald Trump, the two central figures are, of course, Nancy Pelosi and Trump himself. And in the most counterintuitive piece of the entire counterintuitive Trump puzzle, Trump is the one forcing impeachment, and Nancy Pelosi is the one resisting. 

I doubt if Trump actually wants to be impeached by the House and then, inevitably, win vindication at trial in the Senate, but maybe he does. He certainly baits the Democrats at every turn. Maybe he’s playing 37-dimensional checkers (I refuse to use the chess analogy for the stable genius). His ugly, racist, lying, un-American, crowd-inciting tweets and comments about the four women of color called the Squad — Reps. Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley — telling them to go back where they came from when, in fact, three were born in America and one was a child refugee was maybe his clearest provocation yet. The vote to call his tweets racist was, let’s say, a less-than-bold response. 

For his part, Trump’s response was to go to North Carolina for a rally and listen to the “send her home” chants as he began bashing Omar. A day later, Trump tried to distance himself from the chants because everyone around him said it had been a terrible mistake. But close Trump observers — meaning, all of us — knew what would happen next. He would, of course, a la Charlottesville, immediately embrace the crowd again, calling them “patriots,” bash the media, spread various, vicious lies about various members of the Squad — let’s just say no one has actually married her brother —  and, using anti-Semitism as cover, saying he would quash such dissent while he was president.

“You can’t talk that way about our country. Not when I’m president,” Trump said. “These women have said horrible things about our country and the people of our country.”

Omar responded, saying she loved America, but that Trump was a “fascist.” For Trump, criticizing Trump is criticizing America. It’s the essence of Trump, who may not have read the entire First Amendment. And so it’s not surprising that Trump’s reversal came as the House had voted on another impeachment resolution. The impeachment side drew a fairly significant 95 votes, including two from Coloradans, Diana DeGette and Joe Neguse. Would DeGette have gone there if she wasn’t being primaried? I don’t know, but it shows where she thinks Denver Democrats are.

And this all comes as a prelude to the big moment coming Wednesday in which Robert Mueller is scheduled to testify openly before two House committees.

If Mueller were, in fact, guilty of pushing a “Russia hoax,” he could, in his testimony, make it virtually impossible for the House not to impeach. He could make the case against Trump — it’s all in the text — in vivid language and color. In all likelihood, though, he won’t. The guess is he’ll stray as little as possible from the 448-page written text — which most people, even those in Congress, haven’t read — and almost certainly won’t produce any smoking guns other than the couple dozen or so that are already in the report but have somehow basically been ignored.

If Americans watch Mueller — and I’m guessing the ratings will be good — and don’t come away with a case of impeachment fever, it’s hard to see how they ever will. I don’t mean the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. I mean those few remaining Americans who don’t see politics as a blood match, but are so enraged that they believe something must be done. Something to send a message. Something, at minimum, cathartic. 

Pelosi has made her objections clear. She says we need to be patient before voting for an impeachment inquiry, which means, given the electoral calendar, that the House should never go there. It would only help Trump, she says. She says that Trump is “self-impeaching,” making an actual impeachment redundant.

And to this point, the House has not only been faint of heart, it has all but rolled over. You can — and I have often – blame Republicans as Trump enablers. But Democrats have taken the House majority and done virtually nothing with it. As Adam Serwer writes in The Atlantic, how we react to this moment, when Trump basically declares that race and ethnonationalism and immigrant-bashing will be the central pieces of his re-election campaign, will define America, possibly for generations.

Trump tells the House that he is basically above investigation, and the House doesn’t fight back. It doesn’t rally the troops. It slow-walks any objection through the courts. Despite rumblings, the members have basically followed Pelosi’s lead, even when she openly feuded with the Squad. Trump ended the feud, at least for now. But what Pelosi knows is that an impeachment inquiry would inevitably lead to impeachment. It’s all there. Read the report. I have because, well, it’s my job, and I promise you it’s all in there.

Serwer writes: “The Democratic Party cannot fulfill its constitutional responsibilities because its leadership lives in abject terror of being ejected from office by alienating the voters to whom Trump’s nationalism appeals. In effect, the majority of the American electorate, which voted against Trump in 2016 and then gave the Democrats a House majority in 2018, has no representation.”

What to do? I’ve struggled with it myself. At first, I thought Pelosi was right — that it was a losing cause, so why bother? She can certainly point to polls showing that voters don’t favor impeachment. But then, even before the report, I came to believe that Democrats couldn’t honestly criticize Trump as the danger he is to the American democratic project without being brave enough to make the case during an impeachment process. And that if Democratic leaders grew bolder, so would voters. And then, when I read the Mueller report, I said the politics must be damned; what mattered was doing the right thing. And now?

If you missed the Nate Cohn story on the front page the other day of The New York Times, he wrote that Trump could lose the popular vote in 2020 by 5 percent and still somehow win the Electoral College, thereby rewarding Trump’s efforts to keep America divided. Dave Wasserman of the Cook Report wrote for NBC.com, coincidentally on the same day, that Trump could lose by 5 million votes and still win.

These are possibilities, not probabilities, and Nate Silver, the original Nate, argues that the discussion is premature, particularly since the Democrats are nowhere near nominating an opponent. But it makes you wonder whether it matters whom the Democrats nominate. Or whether it matters if an impeachment trial ever makes it to the Senate. The election, obviously, will be a referendum on Trump. And that election, above all, will define America to ourselves and to the world.

14 COMMENTS

  1. After reading the MR cliff’s notes version, I agreed with your initial assessment, Mike. Do the right thing, regardless of political optics.

    You make a good point though. The real problem is that the most unpopular Senate “leader” in history is protecting the most unpopular “president” in history.

    I just don’t see how you get around Comrade McConnell.

    Let’s hope that American Carnage is accurate in its assessment that there’s a civil war brewing in the Republican ranks that could allow some of them a path back to Earth as we know it.

  2. As you refuse to use the chess analogy for the stable genius, I won’t use it for Speaker Pelosi. Given her long leadership of the caucus and two stints as Speaker, it is easy to consider she both has plans for a variety of contingencies AND has a very good sense of the actual feelings of members of her caucus.

    Knowing she cannot expect ANY support from the Republicans, the Democrats and Independent Rep. Amash need to reach 218 votes for a particular approach. That is all but 13 members of her caucus — and thus far, only 84 are on record as wanting a formal Committee inquiry on impeachment. When a member introduced an impeachment resolution, 95 voted to discuss it (one more voted “present”) while 137 voted to table the motion.

    I have no idea of all the factors that would go into the decision. Substantively, I hope there is a willingness by Pelosi to pass a budget and a new spending cap, getting us past the variety of fiscal cliffs which could cause immediate and extensive damage. Politically, I wouldn’t mind if the impeachment investigation was assigned to a committee in October, with hearings in November and December, and then handing it to the Republican Senate in January. It would be difficult for the Republicans to abandon Trump as a candidate at that point, It would be difficult to have someone else ramp up a campaign (consider “Pence for President,” “Ivanka Trump — the Smart One,” “Weld can Win!” or “Sanford promises no more Scandals!”). Whatever the Republican Senate majority members do, the 22 up for election are likely to antagonize some portion of their supporters and increase the chances of Democrats in their state.

    • I think you are right about it being about the TIMING…it makes sense to clear up all the important business, like the budget, and debt ceiling, which then gives us the time and freedom from pressing matters to concentrate on restoring our republic to a real democracy…like impeaching trump…there are worse consequences if we do nothing…but, I suspect it is all in the timing…

  3. Mr. Littwin’s opening sentence says it all and says it best:

    “The impeachment wars are heating up again — just in time, I’d guess, for them to come to an end.”

    And to those who go a just little crazy every time anyone suggests both parties may be culpable he says:

    —– “You can — and I have often – blame Republicans as Trump enablers. But Democrats have taken the House majority and done virtually nothing with it.”

    —– “And to this point, the House has not only been faint of heart, it has all but rolled over.”

    —– “The vote to call his tweets racist was, let’s say, a less-than-bold response.”

    Mr. Littwin’s assessment of Robert Mueller’s upcoming Congressional testimony is spot-on: “(Robert Mueller) could make the case against Trump — it’s all in the text — in vivid language and color. In all likelihood, though, he won’t.”

    In addition, as Newsweek has reported, “Robert Mueller has been called to appear before Congress to discuss the Russia investigation, but the special counsel said Wednesday that his 448-page report is his “testimony” and that he would not provide any information beyond what has already been made public.”

    “It contains our findings and analysis, and the reasons for the decision we made. We chose these words carefully, and the words speak for itself. The report is my testimony,” special counsel Robert Mueller added.”

    Thank you for your candor, Mr. Littwin!

    ******************************

    “Democrats are also split between AOC’s incendiary guerrillas and the cautious moderates led by Nancy Pelosi.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jul/21/american-carnage-on-first-lines-republican-civil-war-and-rise-president-trump-tim-alberta-review

    “At this point, (President)Trump has won a huge political victory — there’s really no argument there — and Democrats and other anti-Trumpists who thought (the Mueller Report) would somehow lead to Trump’s impeachment and then removal from office have to re-examine all their premises.”

    No conspiracy
    No collusion
    No impeachment

      • LOL

        “I blame (Mr.) Littwin”

        Does Mr. Littwin know you blame him for me? Does Mr. Littwin know you hold him responsible for committing the unforgivable sin of “false equivalency” by saying “You can — and I have often – blame Republicans as Trump enablers. But Democrats have taken the House majority and done virtually nothing with it.”? Does Mr. Littwin know you’ll be measuring him for a tin-foil hat? Is Mr. Littwin now Comrade Mike?

        Does Mr. Littwin know when you’re cornered you’ll blame everyone but, well, you? Well he does now.

        You really are sad.

        So let me see if I got this right: The reason Mr. Littwin will now be wearing a tin-foil hat is because he said:

        —– “You can — and I have often – blame Republicans as Trump enablers. But Democrats have taken the House majority and done virtually nothing with it.”

        —– “And to this point, the House has not only been faint of heart, it has all but rolled over.”

        —– “The vote to call his tweets racist was, let’s say, a less-than-bold response.”

        Can I now blame Mr. Littwin for everything I say that people don’t like?

  4. Calm down, have a vodka. Maybe read some Dostoevsky.

    The thing about false equivalency is that both parties don’t have to be blameless for it to exist.

    Just because dems aren’t perfect, doesn’t mean they’re equally to blame.

    Clear?

    • You’re gaslighting belly is showing!

      You might be the one who needs to calm down.

      Weren’t you the one who went ballistic just yesterday. By the way, what were you blaming Mr. Littwin for when you said, “I blame Littwin.” Do you even remember?

      Here’s what’s clear: you said, “dems aren’t perfect”. That’s real progress!!!!

      Keep up the good work and maybe you’ll graduate from remedial politics.

      Maybe.

      ********************

      “At this point, (President)Trump has won a huge political victory — there’s really no argument there — and Democrats and other anti-Trumpists who thought (the Mueller Report) would somehow lead to Trump’s impeachment and then removal from office have to re-examine all their premises.”

      —– “You can — and I have often – blame Republicans as Trump enablers. But Democrats have taken the House majority and done virtually nothing with it.”
      —– “And to this point, the House has not only been faint of heart, it has all but rolled over.”
      —– “The vote to call his tweets racist was, let’s say, a less-than-bold response.”

      No conspiracy
      No collusion
      No impeachment

      • I’m not sure you understand what gaslighting means.

        For instance, insisting someone has Trump Derangement Syndrome for believing the “no collusion witch hunt hoax” is the definition of gaslighting.

        Poking holes in your false equivalency Pravda propaganda doesn’t qualify because I’m not implying you’re mentally ill for believing what you believe, no matter how ridiculous.

        See the difference?

        So you think now that the House is spoon feeding the contents and conclusions of the first in many investigations to the public, that impeachment is more or less likely?

        • It smells like lies again and the smell is coming from you!

          I merely pointed out that the same Jewish groups you claim to proudly stand with are saying Democrats are also culpable for what you describe as “horrific detention centers.”

          I never used the word equivalent. Never.

          Here’s what I did say, “There are those who go just a little crazy when anyone suggests both parties may be culpable. They make 5th graders look mature”

          Let me repeat it since you seem to have problems reading what is printed, “There are those who go just a little crazy when anyone suggests both parties may be culpable. They make 5th graders look mature”

          You’ve already admitted, “dems aren’t perfect”. I was just agreeing. Wholeheartedly!

          You need to calm down and start reading what is printed.

          Got it? I could repeat it slower if that’s what you need.

          *********************

          “At this point, (President)Trump has won a huge political victory — there’s really no argument there — and Democrats and other anti-Trumpists who thought (the Mueller Report) would somehow lead to Trump’s impeachment and then removal from office have to re-examine all their premises.”

          —– “You can — and I have often – blame Republicans as Trump enablers. But Democrats have taken the House majority and done virtually nothing with it.”

          —– “And to this point, the House has not only been faint of heart, it has all but rolled over.”

          —– “The vote to call his tweets racist was, let’s say, a less-than-bold response.”

          No conspiracy
          No collusion
          No impeachment
          Reply

  5. I will watch to see what wig Maxine Waters wears. Will it be the “James Brown” or the
    Farrah Fawxett? It won’t take long until she starts screamin’ “peach fody fi” “peach fody fi”! Maybe her dentures will slip out like Pelosi’s I hope.. I hope…

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