WASHINGTON – House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler has now announced his committee will proceed with its inquiry into the impeachment of President Trump. He says he will do so despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s preference to slow-walk the process with further fact-finding into the various allegations against him.
More than a majority of House Democrats has expressed the desire to act now in keeping with the constitutional mandate that such action start in the House of Representatives. Nadler also indicated Pelosi was imposing no roadblocks to him.
But the path to removing Trump from the Oval Office would still rest with the majority Republicans in the Senate, which would have to vote to oust him by a two-thirds vote upon House impeachment. So far there has been no hint of a break in the president’s stranglehold on the GOP establishment in Congress.
There has been, however, some softening within the party on the divisive issue of gun-control legislation. Trump himself has been sending mixed signals on accepting the imposition of background checks on gun purchasers, to the ire of the National Rifle Association.
The impetus is the wide public revulsion to the murders of 31 people within 24 hours by mass shooters, at least one of whom was a white supremacist, against a background of Trump’s continued racist and white supremacist rhetoric. Protests in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, during and after his visits to the two targeted cities, and evidence that he tried to turn them into exercises of self-aggrandizement, have thrown him on the defensive.
More leading Democrats, including declared 2020 presidential candidates, have seized on Trump’s behavior and utterances to call for action to remove him before he does more damage to America’s moral and political norms in the 15 months remaining before the next national election.
Nadler has notified a federal court: “The Judiciary Committee is now determining whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the president based on the obstructive conduct described by the special counsel Robert Mueller.”
Nadler accordingly has filed a suit against former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn for defying a House subpoena, identifying him as “the most important fact witness in its consideration of whether to recommend articles of impeachment.” It has been alleged that Trump ordered McGahn to fire Mueller but that he declined, while refusing under orders from the president to testify.
At the same time, however, a more determined Democratic campaign toward impeachment could harden and mobilize Trump’s anti-immigration, pro-nationalist base en route to that next election, especially as he takes increasingly to the campaign trail with his now familiar message of hatred and racial and ethnic divisiveness.
So the question now has become whether impeachment should remain merely an option available to the Democratic-controlled House under Article I, Sections 2 and 3 of the Constitution, or an imperative to prevent the further deterioration of the American democratic process under a president gone rogue.
That, in the end, is a question of politics to which no answer is likely to satisfy all. So the prospect is that whatever Congress may ultimately decide, Trump’s fate will reside again at the ballot box in November 2020.
Until then, Americans seem sentenced to more than another year of internal political strife, under the peril of more actual violence fueled by the incendiary rhetoric and actions of a president driven by political self-preservation.