The wheel has come full circle, as Shakespeare said in so many words. Ever since Republicans tried and failed to remove Bill Clinton from the presidency with charges of lying and obstructing justice, Democrats have been yearning for Shakespearean retribution. But the scheme to impeach Donald Trump, the man who rose to power by the doubly injurious act of defeating Hillary and ending the Clinton dynasty, is bereft of poetic justice. Vengeance is not justice, and there is nothing poetic about payback.
New York Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who tried in 1998 to block release of the Starr Report that led to Mr. Clinton’s impeachment, is leading House Democrats’ efforts to find damning information supporting the charge that President Trump canoodled with Russia to get elected in 2016. Last week, Mr. Nadler used his platform as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to announce “formal impeachment proceedings.”
“We are investigating all the evidence, gathering the evidence,” Mr. Nadler told CNN. “And we will [at the] conclusion of this — hopefully by the end of the year — vote to vote articles of impeachment to the House floor. Or we won’t. That’s a decision that we’ll have to make. But that’s exactly the process we’re in right now.”
The chairman has filed federal court petitions seeking access to confidential grand jury testimony and witness transcriptions from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s exhaustive investigation into the Trump campaign. Moreover, his committee has sued to force former White House Counsel Don McGahn to face interrogation over White House conversations about the possible firing of Mr. Mueller, conversations already deemed within legal boundaries.
The notion that the Mueller team might have left one stone unturned in the search for something — anything — to pin on the Donald is a frivolous flight of fancy. Even in a complexified world, there are things that Americans grasp without the help of Google: The U.S. flag is red, white and blue, peanut butter is better with jelly, and Mr. Mueller found neither collusion nor evidence sufficient to conclude Mr. Trump obstructed justice.
When it comes to regarding his fellow New Yorker as president, Mr. Nadler only sees red. By describing his court filings as part of “formal impeachment proceedings,” the chairman is attempting to up the ante from a common faceoff between the Executive and Legislative branches of government to a rarely seen power struggle with constitutional consequences.
If Mr. Nadler looks the part of bad cop, then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is ably playing the role of good cop, ostensibly restraining her colleague from jumping to conclusions, but more likely, holding back the assault on the president long enough to explode with maximum impact during the 2020 election year.
In the meantime, other Trump adversaries are serving the impeachment cause — intentionally or coincidentally — with incessant attacks meant to undermine the president’s reputation. Disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok, who initiated the 2016 Russia investigation, sued the Justice Department last week, contending he was wrongly fired for his anti-Trump animus. Days later, fired Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe followed suit, claiming his ouster was driven by the president’s anger over the Russia probe.
The herd of Democrats running for president have joined tag-team-style in charging Mr. Trump with racism in the wake of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. Candidates cried that the alleged gunman’s manifesto expressing anger with illegal immigrants stemmed from the president’s entirely legitimate efforts to enforce U.S. border laws. Mid-pack contender Kamala Harris, formerly California’s top law enforcer, turned the law on its head recently with her characterization of a Trump administration immigration enforcement operation as “an act of terrorism.”
Sticks and stones can still break bones, but unflattering names are losing their punch in the age of Trump. “Everybody’s called a racist now,” the president told C-SPAN. “The word is so overused, it’s such a disgrace.”
Voters are tiring of the incessant name-calling attacks on the president and by inference, on their fellow Americans. A July 31 Rasmussen poll found that 59 percent of respondents rejected the statement, “Vote for Donald Trump, and you are a racist.” Likewise, a July NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that only 21 percent of those surveyed are in favor of beginning impeachment proceedings against the president.
Democrats disserve the nation in their attempts to keep Mr. Trump on the defensive until the moment ripens for impeachment. Choosing vengeance over virtue does not lead to the moral high ground.
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