After yesterday’s Mueller hearings, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the chairs of the Judiciary, Intelligence, and Oversight committees — Jerry Nadler, Adam Schiff, and Elijah Cummings, respectively — held a press conference on what we learned and where we go next. Despite the ramblings of the barely sentient media and the champagne celebrations of Republicans pretty sure they had achieved FLAWLESS VICTORY! because Mueller stuttered sometimes, the Democratic leaders seemed intent on staying the course and continuing their efforts to hold Donald Trump accountable. Yes, even if and when that includes impeachment.
Before that Wednesday afternoon press conference, and just after Mueller’s testimony, impeachment was the hot topic in a Democratic Caucus meeting, and as usual we have a Politico article telling us that Pelosi took a massive shit all over it, while others, including Jerry Nadler, begged her for an impeachment inquiry and perhaps a scrap of food from the table. But was it really that simple?
That right there is a shift. It’s a subtle shift, but it’s a significant one.
A little more background from Politico:
In the course of the wide-ranging discussion, Nadler countered Pelosi’s pushback by noting that polls showed limited support for removing President Richard Nixon from office when the House began impeachment hearings in 1973, but that public support for the effort grew as more evidence came out about Nixon’s illegal behavior.
As she has for months, Pelosi argued to her colleagues that the “slow, methodical approach” employed by House Democrats was the right way to move forward, despite the fact that more than 90 of her members have called for an impeachment inquiry to begin now. […]
Pelosi also noted Democrats have several lawsuits moving forward in federal court, including cases involving Trump’s personal finances and tax returns, said the sources.
At the press conference, Jerry Nadler explained the immediate next steps, on top of the cases that are already winding through the system: 1. Going to court to enforce the subpoena against former White House counsel Don McGahn, the witness who serves as the unofficial narrator of the obstruction of justice section of the Mueller Report; and 2. suing for the redacted grand jury material in the Mueller Report.
Pelosi also addressed impeachment at the presser:
“If we have a case for impeachment, that’s the place we will have to go. Why I’d like it to be a strong case is because it’s based on the facts — the facts and the law, that’s what matters,” Pelosi told reporters while showing no signs of her disagreement with Nadler, who stood next to her.
“The stronger our case is, the worse the Senate will look for just letting the president off the hook.”
Pelosi added that Democrats’ investigations are “not endless in terms of time.”
“If it comes to a point where the cone of silence and the obstruction of justice and the coverup in the White House prevents us from getting that information, that will not prevent us from going forward and in fact, it’s even more grounds to go forward,” Pelosi said.
That there is also a shift for Pelosi. Still subtle, but a shift.
Two months ago, Pelosi was saying, “Oh lord, Donald Trump is not worth impeachment. But — and it pains me to say this, truly I am agonizing over it — if we absolutely have to go there, we need to be ready. I surely do hope we don’t have to do that, DONALD.” (We paraphrase the speaker of the House, of course.) Now she is giving reticent members permission to go ahead and support impeachment if that’s what their constituents are demanding, and saying that if they have the strongest case possible, the Senate WILL look terrible for letting Trump off the hook. Additionally, she’s saying the fuse is short, and that if they don’t get what they want out of these upcoming lawsuits — witness testimony, Trump taxes, Trump financials, etc. — that’s not going to stop them from doing what needs to be done.
Members of the Democratic caucus — you know, the folks who actually know Pelosi — are noticing the shift. Rep. Jackie Speier, who is not only a powerful Democrat on the Intel Committee, but also part of Pelosi’s California delegation, has said on TV several times in the past 24 hours that Pelosi is becoming “open to it,” and by “it” she means impeachment. But Speier also has said, just like Pelosi said, that she wants to make sure the case is airtight.
As Nicole Belle notes at Crooks and Liars, yesterday’s press conference also featured an entreaty from Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings to the American people to pay attention and do their own part in holding Trump and his administration accountable. He hoped that hearing the truth from Robert Mueller — even if Mueller didn’t wear a funny hat that made Chuck Todd giggle, shake his rattle, and declare the hearing a success — would wake Americans up to what’s really going on, and spur us to action. Stealing Belle’s transcript, because we are laaaaaaaazy:
CUMMINGS: This is a critical moment in our country’s history, and it is a moment which people will be talking about and reading about three, four hundred, five hundred years from now.
And they’re going to ask the question, ‘What did you do when we had a president who knew the rules and knew that our Founding Fathers had done a great job of creating a Constitution and had put in all the guardrails but never anticipate that we would have a president that would just throw away the guardrails?’ […]
And that’s why what happened today is so critical. It was a giant step in making sure that the American people were — got a picture of all of this and hopefully, will look toward the future and say, ‘We’re not going to have this.’
Belle runs through the numbers on where the House Democratic Caucus actually stands on opening an impeachment inquiry, stressing that we have to get involved in making this happen. Here are a couple of facts for you to consider:
1. Did you know that 37 out of the 97 members of the House Progressive Caucus are not there yet on an impeachment inquiry? Maybe some of the bro-gressive Pelosi haters of Twitter should redirect their attention to getting their own people onside, instead of whining about how Pelosi doesn’t accede to the demands of people who @ her on Twitter quite fast enough for their liking.
2. Did you also know that, unless you live inside the confines of the seven-by-seven-mile peninsula that is San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi is almost certainly not your congressman? You need to find out where YOUR congressman stands, and light up their flip phone! It is a science fact that members of Congress really do not pay attention to phone calls, billboards, and skywriting from people who are not their constituents. (If you are a San Francisco reader, you are obviously allowed and encouraged to light up Nancy Pelosi’s flip phone. Bother the fuck out of her!)
For a while now, we have been saying that Pelosi, despite her apparent reticence to support an impeachment inquiry, will nonetheless eventually come around. We’ve argued that she’s been positioning herself as the reluctant, responsible one in the room, who will call for an impeachment inquiry in a way that’s precisely timed for maximum effect, and when she has the proper amount of support from all sides of her caucus for her doing so. One of the things Pelosi is best at is counting votes, and the votes simply aren’t there in the House Democratic Caucus yet, though that number inches upward every day. CNN counts 93 Democrats plus Justin Amash currently calling for an impeachment inquiry. There are 235 Democrats in the House. Maybe one of them is your congressman. SO LIGHT UP THEIR FLIP PHONE! Maybe your congressman is a Republican. Make their Nokia vibrate too! Congressional offices count calls and keep close track of what they’re hearing from their constituents. It does matter.
For instance, here is a moderate California congresswoman, a freshman, named Katie Hill, explaining that she is #NotThereYet, but implying (by stating outright) that she wants to get there once Congress has developed the “strongest possible case.”
If you are a person who lives in the 25th District of California, that there is your congressman. You call her. (ON HER FLIP PHONE!) You don’t whine about Nancy Pelosi on Twitter and blame her for all the world’s problems, including the dirty dishes in your sink, which really are filthy, my God. (We’re not saying you can’t whine on Twitter. We’re just saying you shouldn’t expect results.)
We are going to get there. Congress may be going on recess for the month of August, but the lawsuits Jerry Nadler described — both those that are already heading toward appeals courts, and the ones they’re filing this week — aren’t taking a break. Indeed, once we make it past Labor Day, we’ll probably have a lot more of an idea if/when we’re going to get Trump’s taxes and his financials and Don McGahn’s testimony (and thereby lots of other witnesses’ testimonies, as the McGahn case will be the one to tell the Trump White House to fuck off forever with its bullshit claims of “privilege” and “it’s illegal to say bad things about Trump to Congress”). In other words, shit’s going down after Labor Day, but democracy isn’t a spectator sport, and we all have a role to play.
And wouldn’t you know it, but Wonkette predicted that we’d be getting close to “go” somewhere just after Labor Day. Are we psychic? Or do we just fucking know a thing or three about how politics works? It is a mystery. Oh wait, we will come back to pat ourselves on the back AFTER it has happened, not before!
Here’s that presser from yesterday: