We Now Have Our Impeachment Inquiry

Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly via ZUMA

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Well, Nancy Pelosi has given us our formal impeachment inquiry. And the Senate has voted unanimously to ask the Director of National Intelligence to hand over the whistleblower complaint. The official response from Donald Trump is “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!” The official response from the Trumpbot crowd is that Hunter Biden is the real scandal. The official response from the more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger crowd is that we’d all be taking this a lot more seriously if Democrats hadn’t been so mean to Trump all along.

On a side note, this should make it easier for Congress to subpoena Trump’s tax returns, shouldn’t it? The Treasury Department has been arguing that Congress doesn’t really have any legislative purpose behind the request, but an impeachment inquiry is unquestionably a legislative purpose. It’s hard to see how they can hold out much longer, or how a court could rule in their favor.

I suppose one of the big questions going forward is how to frame the eventual impeachment charges. Should the House issue multiple articles of impeachment (Comey firing, Stormy Daniels, Ukraine, etc.) and hold extensive hearings on them? Or should they focus tightly on Ukraine and try to get through this fairly quickly? I’m tentatively in favor of the latter. Not only is time short, but Ukrainegate is a nice, bright line. Republicans have already made it clear that they’ll fight all the other stuff, and it’s not clear the public would have a problem with that. But Ukraine? This is so plainly corrupt and impeachable that it’s hard to see how anyone can defend it. The best you can do, I suppose, is to say it’s bad but doesn’t rise to the level of impeachable. And that’s pretty weak tea.

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