Earlier this week TPM Reader RS suggested something similar to what Jerry Nadler seems to be pushing for, but with a significant difference …
I think I’m personally in line with the article you posted yesterday, I think, by Adam Jentelson about the political advantages of impeaching even if conviction is a foregone conclusion, but I also agree with your post today that the House shouldn’t put a timeline on it.
I also think they need to do something to break out of the messaging box that they’re in, particularly since it appears that “ordinary” oversight isn’t quite getting the job done (largely due to unprecedented obstruction by the Administration).
I wonder if a way out would be for the House to create a Select Committee To Investigate Presidential Misconduct (not just “high crimes and misdemeanors”) to takeover the investigations currently being run by Oversight, Judiciary, etc. Speaker Pelosi could still appoint Representatives Nadler and Cummings as co-chairs if desired, and the House could still cite its Article I authority to impeach as part of the committee’s authorizing resolution, even if the power to actually vote out Articles of Impeachment remains with the Judiciary Committee.
But I think it would signal seriousness, it would signal that there’s nothing ordinary about this and it would keep impeachment as an ultimate remedy. And it should, I think, get better news coverage for its hearings.
And as a side bonus, perhaps it would free up the Judiciary Committee to focus a bit more on a *legislative* agenda for combating the problem. While they would almost certainly die in the Senate, I would love to see the House pass, for example, bills that:
1. Toll the Statute of Limitations for federal (and, if it would be constitutional, state crimes) for the period of time that a person is serving as POTUS
2. Require expedited judicial consideration of actions seeking to enforce Congressional subpoenas
3. Codify the DOJ Special Counsel regulations, perhaps with a mandatory report to Congress (instead of simply to the AG)
Other committees of jurisdiction could markup bills to require the IRS to proactively file with Congress (or even publish) the tax returns of the President and Vice President, bills to expressly make the President subject to the financial disclosure rules, perhaps provide some sort of enforceable sanction for blatant Hatch Act violations by WH employees, etc.
Anyway, just my thoughts. Maybe I should also send them to my Congressman, who happens to be the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, but for now, I’m sharing them with my longtime go-to political news site/blog instead. Make of them what you will.
Nadler seems to believe that convening a formal impeachment inquiry will strengthen his committee’s hands in key ways. If that’s true, that’s significant. I will add that absent an impeachment inquiry, which defaults to the Judiciary committee which Nadler chairs, it’s very hard for me to imagine the other chairs ceding so much authority and spotlight, as MH suggests. Not that they shouldn’t. It’s not about them. That’s just how congressional chairs act.
On the issue of impeachment inquiries, let me note what I said earlier this week. I think an inquiry is unwise because it creates an 8 or 10 weeks timeline for voting impeachment. That strikes me as folly because what there is to be investigated is so broad and massive you can’t possibly get it all done on that timeline. Of course, there’s no constitutional requirement that it take that long. That’s just how it’s been done in each of the three cases where it’s happened. As I said a few months ago, if you can start an inquiry and ensure it’s actually open-ended, then I don’t see much downside. But I’d like to see how you ensure that is the case.