Those who have carefully followed the slowly developing dance that House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler has been performing over demands for the “launching” of an “impeachment inquiry” or “proceedings” already knew where this was going, but Nadler’s movements are becoming less subtle. His position is now clearly that his committee is already “inquiring” into impeachment, and should it decide to adopt articles of impeachment, you could conclude that the “proceedings” began some time ago. CNN has the story:
The House Judiciary Committee is now engaged in a full-blown investigation and legal fight with the goal of deciding whether to recommend articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump by the end of the year, according to Democratic officials involved in the effort …
As additional House Democrats continue to call for the House Judiciary Committee to launch an impeachment inquiry — which more than half the caucus now supports — Democratic sources say the issue is essentially moot since what the panel is doing is basically that: investigating whether Trump should be impeached.
So according to this interpretation of the situation, there’s no need to “launch” anything, or to put House Democrats on the spot with some vote to begin “proceedings” that are already underway.
“This is formal impeachment proceedings,” Nader told CNN’s Erin Burnett Thursday on “OutFront.”
In the fall, the House Judiciary Committee plans to hold a set of hearings with key witnesses whose testimony would be part of the committee’s impeachment deliberations, according to multiple sources.
Now, this maneuver doesn’t entirely finesse differences of opinion among House Democrats about impeachment; it simply delays a reckoning until later in the year. Nadler clearly does think calling what he’s doing “formal impeachment proceedings” strengthens the House’s hand in enforcing subpoenas in the courts against claims of executive privilege, which some observers have long cited as a good reason to pursue impeachment.
Pelosi has shifted her tone over impeachment in recent weeks — and aides say she’s green-lit the language in the House lawsuits that contend the committee is considering voting on whether to impeach the President. She has long contended the House needs to be methodical in its approach, but has consistently batted away talk that the chamber’s goal was to impeach Trump, arguing such a move would be divisive and ultimately unsuccessfully since two-thirds of the GOP-led Senate would need to vote to remove Trump from office …
In a letter to her caucus this week, she noted the language in the House Judiciary [subpoena enforcement] lawsuit, calling it a “significant step” and quoting directly from the suit to say that the House must have all the facts to consider whether to use its constitutional power of “utmost gravity — approval of articles of impeachment.”
It also seems pretty obvious that Nadler’s shift toward calling what he’s already been doing “impeachment proceedings” has been quietly approved by his boss, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who until recently was publicly adamant in opposing any step down that path.
Where House Democrats will wind up on impeachment is yet to be determined; for all we know, Pelosi’s strategy is to run out the clock via inconclusive yet politically valuable hearings and court fights, and then quietly recommend that Democrats turn their attention to the 2020 elections. But for the moment, Nadler has positioned himself and the leadership to respond to the obsessive media countdown of how many House Democrats and 2020 presidential candidates are calling for “impeachment proceedings” by saying: Been there, done that.