In a statement long on quotes from the Founding Fathers and short on details, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally announced on Thursday morning that she had asked the House Judiciary Committee to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
While she did not specifically address the question of the scope of these articles, her statement, like the impeachment proceedings so far, focused mostly on impeachment as the sole and proper remedy for a president selling out national interests in dealing with foreign governments. That would suggest a principal article of impeachment focused on the “favor” Trump asked Ukraine’s president to do for him and its intended effect of helping Trump get reelected by lowering a Ukrainian boom on Joe Biden. But since the Mueller report’s elaborate presentation of evidence of presidential obstruction of justice also involved an investigation into foreign meddling in the 2016 election, an article or articles dealing with those offenses would be within the scope of an impeachment drive focused on Trump’s relationship with foreign governments. And Pelosi did briefly mention the president’s efforts to subvert Congress’ role as a co-equal branch of government, so an article on obstruction of Congress via defiance of subpoenas would be in order, too.
The important thing to remember is that these three subjects for articles of impeachment — the Ukraine scandal, obstruction of congressional efforts to investigate the Ukraine scandal, and obstruction of the Russia investigation — have already been thoroughly aired publicly, which means the Judiciary Committee can move quickly on them. And the Washington Post is reporting that in a House Democratic Caucus meeting on Wednesday, Pelosi sounded committed to her original Christmas deadline for finishing up impeachment:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff left little doubt with fellow Democrats Wednesday that they plan to move swiftly to impeach President Trump as soon as this month …
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff left little doubt with fellow Democrats Wednesday that they plan to move swiftly to impeach President Trump as soon as this month.
The caucus, according to multiple members, erupted with shouts of approval.
At the Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing on Tuesday, Republicans (and the witness they called) agitated the air incessantly about the speed with which House Democrats are moving towards impeachment. As is his habit, the president undercut his defenders pretty decisively in a pair of early-morning tweets:
So the race is on. Current plans are that other committee chairmen — notably Adam Schiff — will present their committees’ findings on impeachable offenses to the Judiciary Committee next week, and formal articles will be unveiled the week of December 16 at the latest and approved quickly by the Judiciary Committee, where there’s no reason to expect anything other than a strict party-line vote. At that point there will be just nine shopping days left before Christmas, and even less time for the House to debate and vote on impeachment of the president. Everyone can only hope there’s not a government shutdown right in the middle of the impeachment drama.