Should Democratic Elected Officials Take Any Options Off The Table?

The question answers itself. How hard can it be for Democratic elected officials in the House and Senate, as well as all presidential candidates, to say, at a minimum: “We are not about to rule out any options” or “we are not taking any possibilities off the table.” What I have read of the redacted version of the Mueller Report tells me that the president of the US is in no position to “lead the free world.” Mueller followed Justice Department guidelines that sitting presidents can’t be indicted, and interpreted those guidelines to mean that he should not say “this person should be charged with x, y, or z.” Some Democrats in leadership are wary of starting impeachment hearings, but how hard can it be to let the evil and disloyal pattern of behavior laid out in great detail by Mueller sink into public awareness and opinion, and go from there. Moreover, political leadership is about shaping and moving public opinion. Fewer than 20% of Americans polled a month after Senator Sam Ervin’s Senate Judiciary hearings on Watergate began approved of removing President Nixon.  It took several months for opinion to move.  Also, there is no reason that Judiciary Chairman Nadler can’t call AG Barr and Special Counsel Mueller (and other key witnesses) in the next month to testify publicly. The impact of Robert Mueller actually speaking on television cannot be known in advance. If impeachment hearings seem warranted, the Judiciary Committee can and should be broader than what is in Mueller’s (redacted) report: they ought to address self-dealing including Emoluments Clause violations, as well as multiple failures to “Take Care” to execute the laws faithfully. All recent presidents have, arguably, fallen short of their constitutional duty to adhere to the Take Care Clause, but this president’s abuses have been spectacular. For his part, he’s coming for the Democrats and will try to Take Care gangsta style no matter what Democratic politicians do. The Democratic party should, both on principle–as partisans for the public good–and on pure pragmatic grounds, refuse to take any options off the table. That’s not being “rude” or “uncivil,” there’s simply no other way for members of a co-equal branch to respond in 2019. It’s now up to committee chairs (Judiciary, as well as Financial Services, Oversight, and Intelligence) to set the table. Then go from there.

The Democratic candidates for president, meanwhile, can focus on all the issues of concern to Americans–health care, immigration, jobs and wages and working conditions, global warming, voting rights, and others–and weigh in on presidential misconduct and impeachment if and when they wish.

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