Rep. Adam Schiff, the head of the House Intelligence Committee, maintained the curious line of the Democratic leadership this weekend in declaring Trump’s conduct as more serious than Nixon but trying to dampen demands for impeachment. I have written for the last year that the calls for impeachment leading to the midterm elections as a transparent bait-and-switch in the making. As made clear by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, impeachment is not on their “agenda.” Indeed, it is doubtful that the leadership ever wanted to impeach Trump. However, they must look like they want to impeach so Schiff and others are just blaming the expected opposition by Republicans as relieving them of the need to impeach. It doesn’t. While I think this would be a difficult impeachment case given the mixed and incomplete findings of Robert Mueller, that has nothing to do with Schiff and others fulfilling their oaths if they believe impeachable conduct has occurred. Nixon was certain to be impeached when he resigned and Schiff is saying that Trump’s conduct is “far worse.”
The line was apparent last night when Speaker Nancy Pelosi fought back members demanding impeachment proceedings and insisted that they would just continue to investigate out of fear of possible political backlash.
Schiff told host of ABC’s This Week, Martha Raddatz that “The obstruction of justice in particular this case is far worse than anything that Richard Nixon did … so yes, I would say in every way this is more significant than Watergate.”
Then however he relieved himself and the entire Democratic Party of acting on principle to vote on articles of impeachment. It is well known that the party is concerned that such an effort would backlash and a wounded Trump is much better for their political interests than a removed Trump. The solution? Blame the opposition and say that they would not fulfill their oaths:
“We are, unfortunately, in an environment today where the GOP leadership, people like [House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy, are willing to carry the president’s water no matter how corrupt or unethical or dishonest the president’s conduct may be. And in those kinds of circumstances, when [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell will not stand up to the president either, it means that an impeachment is likely to be unsuccessful.”
It is that easy. You get to continue to investigate and declare impeachable conduct without actually putting your name to an article of impeachment.
As I have previously written, members should not be able to avoid difficult votes by insisting that other members in the other chambers would likely not fulfill their own oaths. If leadership want to stand on principle in denouncing alleged impeachable offenses, they may want to honor the principles under Article I to declare and vote on such offenses.