Imagine being Jerry Nadler. Imagine holding the type of press conference he did last week. Imagine having presided over a highly-anticipated, politically-disastrous hearing featuring Robert Mueller on Wednesday -- and somehow believing that this sort of rhetoric might be persuasive or effective with the American public. This statement makes little logical sense, but as I'll explain below, I'm not sure that's the point. But first, here's the central incoherence, crystalized in one tweet:
Jerry Nadler: Trump should be impeached because 'he's violated the laws six ways from Sunday. But he said the House Judiciary Committee needs "more evidence" to determine whether or not the chamber should take the first step in a long impeachment process. https://t.co/JZfuAKldCC— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) July 28, 2019
The president has supposedly "violated the laws six ways from Sunday," yet House Democrats need "more evidence" before they can move forward with an impeachment inquiry. Got it. Jonathan Swan of Axios asks, "can somebody smarter than me explain how Nadler's position makes any sense?" Here's how he responded when liberal activist Neera Tanden mounted a feeble defense of Nadler's painfully untenable position:
help my simple mind understand. how many "votes" does it take to open an impeachment inquiry? https://t.co/7lgdR2iKph— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) July 28, 2019
He followed up by correctly noting that House Judiciary Democrats could "open an impeachment inquiry right now if they want to." And that's the point. They don't want to. Only a minority of the House majority (see update) favors impeachment, with the president's party universally opposed. House leadership is against that course of action, too, blunting any political momentum in that direction. But because the party's base still craves impeachment, Nadler must play pretend. He must take no real action -- including turn-key actions within his jurisdiction -- to actually open an impeachment inquiry, while performing for the base. Keep hope alive. The key revelation is just out of reach. Stay with us. We're almost there. This is a silly stance designed to run out the clock, effectively doing nothing while trying to convince some segment of the opposition's core electorate that their representatives are, in fact, 'doing something.' Nadler is trying to create the atmospherics of an impeachment process without actually triggering one, hence the plainly ridiculous statements like the quote above.
Of course, if public opinion were in a different place, these types of tortured theatrics wouldn't be necessary. Alas, voters have remained solidly opposed to impeachment, and have been for months. On my radio show, I predicted for days that the Mueller hearings would not move the needle on public opinion at all because his testimony would not change the facts we've known since the report itself was published, months ago. Views have calcified, and almost everyone has moved on -- except for a significant percentage of The Resistance, as well as many in the press (these are overlapping groups). My prediction was a layup:
27% of Americans say Robert Mueller’s testimony made them more likely to support a potential impeachment effort of President Trump, a new @ABC News/Ipsos poll finds, versus 26% who said it made them less likely. 47% said it made no difference. https://t.co/aIHo7FjNCC pic.twitter.com/XQ9pfN77Mx— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 28, 2019
Democratic and Republican partisans reacted predictably, with independents breaking slightly in the direction of becoming less likely to back impeachment proceedings after Mueller's performance; a strong plurality said his performance made no difference. And yet a hefty segment of the Democrats in Congress will continue this pointless slog, out of awkward political necessity, fully aware that the Speaker will stymie any "progress" they try to claim on this front. I'll leave you with the president personally trolling Nadler in...highly Trumpian fashion:
UPDATE - As more rank-and-file Congressional Democrats (plus some leadership) move away from Pelosi's position, despite no new information coming to light, how long can she hold the Judiciary Committee back from pursuing impeachment? What happens if and a when a majority of her caucus disagrees with her?
12 members away from 50% of the Democratic caucus https://t.co/2Mc32I7tkt— Yashar Ali ?? (@yashar) July 28, 2019