Democrats are flexing their muscles as the incoming majority in the US House of Representatives, introducing articles of impeachment and even quixotic constitutional amendments even though they have no hope of passing.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) introduced articles of impeachment on the first day of the 2019 Congress, starting with a resolution demanding President Donald Trump be impeached for “threatening, and then terminating” then-FBI Director James Comey in 2017. Reserving the option to introduce more articles later, Sherman told CNN he wanted to be able to “force the conversation on impeachment” when (if?) the Mueller report is released, “challenging” his Democratic colleagues who haven’t yet chosen to support Trump’s impeachment.
Sherman filed the exact same impeachment resolution in 2017 but could only muster one supporter, Rep. Al Green (D-TX), who later filed his own articles of impeachment.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) didn’t even wait until she was seated as a congresswoman to go after the president’s job, publishing an op-ed on Thursday entitled “Now is the time to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump.”
“We already have overwhelming evidence that the president has committed impeachable offenses,” she wrote, accusing Trump of “abuse of power and abuse of the public trust” along with a laundry list of crimes.
In person, she was even more direct, reportedly telling a MoveOn.org reception, “We’re gonna impeach that mother**ker.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been noticeably reticent on impeachment, telling NBC on Thursday that Democrats should wait for the Mueller report before making any moves. “We shouldn’t be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn’t avoid impeachment for a political reason,” she said. Many rank-and-file Democrats ran on pro-impeachment platforms, but with polls indicating only a third of Americans support the idea and a two-thirds majority in the Republican-controlled Senate required to remove the president, they are unlikely to make any sudden moves.
Not content to merely imagine a world without Trump as president, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) went after the governmental processes that gave the US Trump as president, proposing a constitutional amendment to eliminate the Electoral College. The bill would provide for the direct election of the president and vice president and is, if anything, even less likely to pass than an impeachment resolution.
In the same vein of legislative virtue-signaling, Cohen also introduced a second constitutional amendment that would bar presidents from pardoning themselves, their family members, their administration, or their campaign staff. While he managed to avoid naming Trump in his press release, it was clear who he had in mind. Cohen was the third Democrat (besides Sherman and Green) to introduce articles of impeachment in 2017, when he piled on five separate charges and attracted 17 co-sponsors, but like his comrades, was unable to bring the matter to a vote.
House Democrats also passed a bill on Thursday to end the government shutdown that has lasted 13 days so far, though President Trump has promised to veto it as it lacks funding for his $5 billion border wall. Still, it’s the thought that counts, as this year’s Congress clearly believes.