House launches pre-impeachment agenda this week – Washington Examiner
House Democrats this week plan to begin making the case for an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wants the caucus to stay away from impeachment, but to mollify her pro-impeachment faction, she has sanctioned hearings as well as votes citing two Trump administration officials with contempt of Congress.
The action starts Monday in the House Judiciary Committee where lawmakers plan to hold a series of hearings to examine the findings in the 448-page Mueller report, which Democrats believe show Trump broke the law.
On Tuesday, lawmakers will vote on a resolution to cite Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn with contempt of Congress.
The hearings, Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said, will focus on “the alleged crimes and other misconduct laid out in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.”
Democrats hope it will shift public sentiment in favor of impeachment of Trump for various offenses, including a refusal to cooperate with a broad array of House investigations conducted by their party. Polls show a majority of voters do not support impeachment although the number has ticked up slightly recently.
“I’m hoping all these hearings that we have will allow us not only a chance to get into the legal pieces of this but really the implications for our democracy if we concentrate power in one person,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said. “That’s called a king. What we have is a president and a democracy and three co-equal branches of government.”
The star witness at Monday’s hearing is John Dean, a key Watergate figure who served as White House counsel to President Richard Nixon.
While Dean served time in prison for obstruction of justice, he’s been a staunch critic of Trump and attacks him regularly on Twitter and on cable news shows.
Dean, Democrats hope, can help the public understand the similarities between the Watergate scandal, which forced Nixon’s resignation, and President Trump, who they believe tried to obstruct Mueller’s two-year inquiry into alleged Russian collusion with his campaign.
The hearing, Nadler said, will focus on Trump’s “most overt acts of obstruction” while subsequent hearings will feature “other important aspects of the Mueller report.”
Dean has made the case that Trump’s alleged wrongdoing in office generally is worse than anything that pushed out Nixon.
“Trump is making the long nightmare of Nixon’s Watergate seem like a brief idyllic daydream,” Dean tweeted in November. “History will treat Nixon’s moral failures as relatively less troubling than Trump’s sustained and growing decadence, deviousness and self-delusive behavior. Nixon=corrupt; Trump=evil.”
Tuesday’s contempt vote will shift to federal district court the fight between Congress and Trump over access to material and witnesses from his administration.
Democrats want to cite Barr with contempt for refusing to turn over the unredacted version of the Mueller report while McGahn faces their wrath for declining to appear as a witness at a public hearing.
They will vote on a civil contempt resolution, which will leave it up to the courts to decide whether the Trump administration was legally entitled to hold back witnesses and documents Democrats want to see.
In Barr’s case, the redacted material must remain concealed by law. Democrats are mainly angry at him for his four-page memo declaring the Mueller report cleared President Trump of obstruction and collusion.
Democrats believe Barr lied to them and that Mueller found evidence of obstruction.
The courts have greenlighted Democrats recently in their quest to subpoena access to Trump’s financial documents, which they want to scour for crimes.
“We have already seen the courts side with Congress and we’ll continue to pursue the facts on behalf of the American people,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Friday. “We will follow the facts wherever they lead.”
Ultimately pro-impeachment Democrats, who are still only a fraction of the caucus, hope the actions they take beginning this week will shift the polls in favor of impeachment.
A June 4 Hill-HarrisX poll found only 35% of respondents favored impeachment, compared to 45% who aren’t in favor of it and 20% who are undecided.
Nadler, in a CNN interview last week, acknowledged there is not enough support for impeachment but believes it would grow if more people heard about the facts of the case.
“Right now, we have to get the facts out, we have to educate the American people, because after all, the American people have been lied to consistently by the president, by the attorney general, who have misrepresented what was in the Mueller report,” Nadler said.