Clinton published a must-read op-ed in Le Post this afternoon. Here are a couple of excerpts:
Our election was corrupted, our democracy assaulted, our sovereignty and security violated. This is the definitive conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report. It documents a serious crime against the American people.
The debate about how to respond to Russia’s “sweeping and systemic” attack — and how to hold President Trump accountable for obstructing the investigation and possibly breaking the law — has been reduced to a false choice: immediate impeachment or nothing. History suggests there’s a better way to think about the choices ahead.
Obviously, this is personal for me, and some may say that I’m not the right messenger. But my perspective is not just that of a former candidate and target of the Russian plot. I am also a former senator and secretary of state who served during much of Vladimir Putin’s ascent, sat across the table from him and knows firsthand that he seeks to weaken our country.
Clinton urges Congress to hold hearings on the Mueller report findings, not jump straight into holding a vote on impeachment, citing the Watergate inquiry as a model. She notes that during Watergate, a Senate select committee held hearings that added to the facts of the case before an impeachment inquiry began and suggests that a committee could do something similar now by calling Mueller and McGahn to testify. Clinton doesn’t spell this out, exactly, but this would all have to be on the House side since the Republican-controlled Senate has demonstrated that it will do nothing.
Clinton calls out Trump in deservedly savage terms:
We have to get this right. The Mueller report isn’t just a reckoning about our recent history; it’s a warning about the future. Unless checked, the Russians will interfere again in 2020, and possibly other adversaries, such as China or North Korea, will as well. This is an urgent threat. Nobody but Americans should be able to decide America’s future. And, unless he’s held accountable, the president may show even more disregard for the laws of the land and the obligations of his office. He will likely redouble his efforts to advance Putin’s agenda, including rolling back sanctions, weakening NATO and undermining the European Union.
Clinton emphasizes a key point that Trump and the Republicans are determined to ignore: the Mueller report isn’t only or even primarily about Trump. It’s about an attack on our democracy by a hostile foreign power, and the report establishes that the attack happened unequivocally. That requires action. By making it solely about Trump and crowing about his supposed “exoneration,” Trump and the Republicans are derelict in their duty to protect the country.
Clinton is right, of course. But given that just today Trump signaled refusal to cooperate with any oversight at all because NO COLLUSION HOAX WITCH HUNT I WON, with the full support of his Republican toadies in Congress, impeachment might truly be the only way forward. Greg Sargent explains, outlining how stonewalling on requests for tax returns, urging former and current administration officials to disregard subpoenas and requests for committee appearances, etc., might force Democrats to use an impeachment inquiry to get anywhere at all:
Trump, in a new interview with The Post, just made it overwhelmingly clear that he will henceforth treat the House and its reasonable oversight efforts as fundamentally illegitimate.
“There is no reason to go any further, and especially in Congress where it’s very partisan — obviously very partisan,” Trump said, referring to the latest round of oversight requests House Democrats have made…
Perhaps Trump views an impeachment inquiry as a less bad outcome than releasing his tax returns. Or perhaps he hopes to run out the clock, gambling that Democrats won’t have the guts to pull the trigger.
If so, that creates a torturous dilemma. Democrats themselves say the full truth must be pursued, for the sake of the country. But if Trump blocks them from doing that, it would seem to force their hand and require an impeachment inquiry.
Clinton’s op-ed is a timely reminder that the stakes are much higher than the orange fart cloud’s presidency. Perhaps the House Democrats’ first move should be to get Mueller’s testimony about the true purpose of the report and underscore the national security implications, then proceed from there within that framing, explicitly pursuing impeachment if that’s the only way to get at the facts.
The op-ed also brushes back the notion voiced by some Democrats that we should close the book on the Mueller report and focus on removing Trump via the ballot box in 2020. What ballot box, if Putin or someone else decides to diddle our election again? Anyone who urges Democrats to move on has lost the plot — it’s not only about Trump, though holding a lawless president accountable is a Congressional duty; it’s the national security threat, stupid.