Impeachable Behavior?

Alan Zendell, May 20, 2019

There are many ways to look at Saturday’s extensive tweets by Republican Justin Amash, who represents Michigan’s third district in the House of Representatives. Amash accused Attorney General William Barr of deliberately misrepresenting the conclusions reached by Robert Mueller, asserting that Mueller detailed several instances in which Amash thinks President Trump was guilty of obstruction of justice. He was the first House Republican to endorse impeaching the president.

When the (redacted) report was released, Senator Mitt Romney (R, Utah) said he was sickened by the actions attributed to Trump by Mueller, but there wasn’t enough evidence of obstruction of justice to justify impeachment. As usual, Romney started out looking and sounding statesmanlike, but quickly dissembled into meaninglessness. If there wasn’t clear evidence of obstruction, exactly what sickened the Senator sufficiently to make him speak out against Trump on his own? What was the point?

When S. E. Cupp, conservative commentator turned Trump-hater reacted to Mr. Amash’s tweets by exclaiming, “This is big!” I could only think, “Really?” Amash represents a “safe” Republican district in a state Trump won by the narrowest of margins, and if there was any reason to believe Amash’s tweets would influence a sizable number of voters, they might be a big deal. But since he and Romney are the only two Republicans in Congress who’ve said anything negative about Trump, and no one seems to be rushing to join the flood of criticism, I’d file the incident under interesting but insignificant.

Remember Jeff Flake? He not only spoke out early against Trump’s dishonesty and generally immoral behavior – he even published a book about it. Flake was generally praised as a man of integrity, but did a single Republican stand up for him when Trump took him down?

Amash seems like a decent guy, a libertarian Republican of the Ron and Rand Paul variety. He’s honest, and he speaks his mind, but he’s hardly a consensus builder. He’s frequently out there on his own, much like his idols the Pauls, a lone wolf who doesn’t much care if anyone agrees with him. Not exactly someone to build a movement around, S. E., and as Romney correctly noted, impeachment can’t go anywhere without the Senate, and the Senate isn’t there.

With Barr in place, the Department of Justice won’t be changing its policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted any time soon. We have to accept the fact that Trump is presently not impeachable. Nor is he chargeable while he’s in office.

Does that mean all the tantalizing hints in the Mueller report should be ignored? Absolutely not. It would be unconscionable to not follow up on what Mueller said and implied. Every president can and should be held accountable. If Trump can’t be arrested or impeached, he can be dealt with the old-fashioned way. With an election in less than eighteen months, the current fight between the White House and the People’s House is really about whether every American deserves to know the truth about Trump on Election Day.

If you need a reality check, one thing everyone seems to agree on is that Mueller, a life-long Republican, is a responsible investigator. It’s inconceivable that he would have filled his report with unsupportable red herrings and allegations. The evidence is out there, as they used to say on The X-Files, only this time it really is. Mueller’s staff produced thousands of pages of interviews, analyses, carefully supported conclusions, and other related work products. The House of Representatives, knowing they exist, has a constitutional responsibility to study them.

If that weren’t clear enough, no administration has ever asserted that Congress does not have the right to investigate the President as aggressively as Trump has. Ask yourself why. Is it just that Trump’s narcissism sends him into a rage whenever anyone challenges him, or do his people know there’s great potential political damage lurking in Mueller’s files?

Trump’s personal attorney, Rudi Guiliani has said many times that the strategy of blanket refusal to comply with all subpoenas is a delaying tactic. Trump’s allies believe they can stall the process in the courts long enough that nothing damaging will affect the election, and they might be right. Judging by how gridlocked and partisan our entire government is, it’s clear that stalling and preventing anything from being done is what most politicians do best.

Still, it’s the only way we’ll ever know the truth. The House Chairs must keep pressing or Trump will get off scot free and might even be re-elected. That simply cannot happen.

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