WASHINGTON—Thursday was another day on which the Congress did not undertake the beginning of an effort to fulfill its constitutional duty to investigate the president*'s conduct in office as a means to determine whether or not articles of impeachment should be filed against him. I mention this if you're keeping score at home. As an ancillary benefit to democracy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell personally crisped two bills aimed at safeguarding the 2020 elections.
One was a House bill brought to the floor that would have required paper ballots and that increased funding for the Election Security Commission, a bill that sailed through the House with one Republican voting for it. Schumer asked for unanimous consent to bring the bill to the floor of the Senate. McConnell objected. This is what he said about that.
Clearly this request is not a serious effort to make a law. Clearly something so partisan that it only received one single solitary Republican vote in the House is not going to travel through the Senate by unanimous consent.
The second bill was brought up by Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut. It would have required campaigns to report to the FBI any contact with a foreign entity seeking to influence an election. He asked for unanimous consent to bring the bill to the floor. McConnell objected. And said nothing. And that was the end of the Congress's attempts on Thursday to make sure the next few elections are on the up and up.
A cynic might conclude from that morning's action that McConnell wants the elections to be vulnerable because that's the easiest way for his party to win elections. "To me, the best way to solve this problem is to beat [the president*] in the 2020 elections," said one senator. "But it's a really tough call." The tensions are unmistakably rising inside the Congress. The catalyst was Mueller's colloquy with House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff about what might happen in the next election.
"All of us, regardless of where we are in the next election, should be concerned about foreign powers interfering in future elections," said Rep. Joaquin Castro. "For Americans, who heard his hours of testimony, it's clear that was left out of the special counsel's report. I believe that the special counsel's report was basically a referral to the Congress to begin impeachment proceedings."
One of the people who has moved on the topic is Senator Edward Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts. Not long after McConnell had killed the two election-security bills, Markey got up in the Senate and announced his support for an impeachment inquiry. That makes Markey one of the few Democratic senators not running for president to call for such a process to begin. (It also gives the Commonwealth—God save it!—two U.S. senators who are on board.) He explained his change of heart this way:
The special counsel's testimony and events of the past two weeks have led to the undeniable conclusion that it is time for the House of Representatives to begin a formal impeachment proceeding against President Trump. I stand here today on the Senate floor to place -- the place where an unprecedented trial would occur understanding the gravity of this moment in our nation's history. I stand here today because I believe we have reached the moment where we must stand up for the survival of our democracy. Before he came to this decision, I said I needed to hear directly from Special Counsel Mueller and other witnesses. That Congress needed to obtain documents and that we needed to gather all the facts in evidence...
...I had hoped that the president who continues to insist that he did nothing wrong would cooperate and that the House Judiciary Committee would receive testimony and other evidence from the Trump campaign and Trump administration witnesses. That has not happened. And that's because of continued and deliberate presidential obstruction...
... What we have seen from President Trump is a pattern of repeated and baseless denial, baseless defiance of the House's constitutional authority to investigate, especially subpoenas seeking evidence that the president obstructed justice and abused his power. The president has engaged in stonewalling that shows an unprecedented disregard and contempt for a coequal branch of government under our constitution. Disregard and contempt that would make Richard Nixon blush with envy.
Markey himself said he had "no illusions" about where an impeachment process might ultimately lead in the Senate—which is to say, nowhere. The Republican Party is wholly behind ratfcking, foreign or domestic, as long as it leads to the proper result. Impeachment in this context is not an exercise in futility. It is the only duty left to the Congress in the face of everything else that is being twisted and vandalized at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. There is nothing else left to do.
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