And what the Democrats want is the spectacle — a way to bring the enormity of the Mueller report onstage and into the full view of the American public.
And it’s especially galling since the administration is happy to go to court and drag things out, say, until December 2020. It’s Congress’ job, after all, to oversee the executive branch — especially when there is potential criminality. But one more problem: they’re out there alone. Most Republicans are apparently allergic to any executive branch oversight.
And here’s the answer: Don’t do it. Not now, and maybe never.
It’s hard, especially given Trump’s daily acts of blindness towards the Constitution. But in a way — despite his daily protestations — the President is daring them to do it. He’s goading them with refusals to comply with any requests. He understands a couple of things: the public doesn’t want impeachment, nor does it believe that Congress can do anything well, or in a nonpartisan way.
And for what?
Joe Biden — nearly 20 points ahead of the pack — has clearly tapped into something with Democratic voters. More than anything else, they want a candidate who can win, and that’s how Biden portrays himself. And for those independents who may be tired of the daily circus, he says he represents some calm, something they crave. He’s shrewdly seized on a political reality: widespread exhaustion with constant conflict.
Of course, there’s no way to say “never” to impeachment. One Democrat not inclined toward impeachment asks what if the President refuses to comply with a binding court order? Sure, seems like a red line. And there’s always the possibility that some new information is so stunning it tips the scales — and makes the public (or even some Republicans) reconsider its clear verdict that impeachment is not the way to go.
And that’s what has to happen. Democratic congressional efforts at oversight should continue, but without a rush to impeach. Pelosi can’t — and won’t — corral her caucus to her point of view. But she won’t lead them off a cliff, either.
In the meantime, understand the history that Pelosi knows all too well: When Bill Clinton was impeached by Republicans in 1998 his popularity skyrocketed, Democrats won seats in the midterms and House Speaker Newt Gingrich left Congress. The Trump and Clinton cases could not be more different, but the lesson is the same: Play the long game, or risk losing the big one.