The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter has a good write-up today on the views of Colorado Democrats on impeaching President Donald Trump following the release of a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report–a report that is considerably worse for Trump after digestion than Attorney General William Barr led the nation to believe.
Despite this, most of the delegation agrees that the moment is not yet ripe to commence impeachment proceedings:
“The Mueller report details many instances in which President Trump actively attempted to interfere with the investigation into his campaign’s potentially treasonous ties with Russia,” said Rep. Diana DeGette, a Denver Democrat. “The president’s actions are clearly beneath the high personal, ethical and legal standards our founders envisioned in the executive branch, and, as such, constitute a prima facie case to trigger an impeachment investigation.”
…When asked if there is enough evidence in the redacted Mueller report to justify impeachment, Rep. Ed Perlmutter paused for seven seconds and sighed before answering. “My guess is, if we could see what’s been redacted, that there would be enough. [Pols emphasis] But I don’t know that because it’s been redacted,” he said, adding that there is “pretty damning” evidence Trump obstructed justice.
Perlmutter, a former critic of [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, largely agrees with her on the next steps for House Democrats: Further investigate alleged instances of wrongdoing by Trump and his campaign, such as a June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, and only act on impeachment if new details come to light that warrant impeachment.
Politically, there are a number of competing factors in play. Democratic grassroots desire to strike a blow against the President via an impeachment proceeding is extremely strong, to the point of harshly condemning Democrats like Speaker Nancy Pelosi who have expressed caution about plunging headlong into impeachment.
At the same time, the threshold of wrongdoing that would be required to induce the GOP-controlled Senate to actually vote to convict the President is simply unknowable. We’re pretty sure it’s not as high as Trump thinks–if he shot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue, we’re inclined to think the Senate would vote to remove him from office. But the GOP’s collective tolerance for Trump’s malfeasance, particularly with regard to this issue, makes the chances of getting even 50 votes–let alone the supermajority needed to remove Trump from office–very unlikely.
If impeachment is unlikely to succeed, the next question for Democrats to resolve is whether proceeding with the attempt has political value ahead of the 2020 elections. There’s a good argument that a failed impeachment attempt will do more to shore up Trump’s base of support than erode it, much like Barr’s initial four-page spin of the Mueller report gave many Republicans the pretext they needed to ignore everything that came out afterward. And the closer we get to the 2020 election cycle, the more straightforward remedy of simply voting Trump out arguably makes impeachment talk a distraction.
For Democrats who are old enough to remember when Republicans impeached Bill Clinton for lying about a blow job, having the patience to forego returning the favor over Trump’s infinitely more serious offenses is a lot to ask.
But in the long run, much like Colorado Republicans wasting time and money on recalls instead of preparing for the next general election, keeping Democratic eyes on the 2020 prize could well be the smart play.