Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi held a closed-door session with Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday and insisted that Democrats stick with their policy agenda instead of initiating the impeachment of Donald Trump. According to The Washington Post, “not a single lawmaker challenged her.”
Trump has ordered his staff and those who used to be part of his staff to ignore congressional subpoenas; instructed the IRS to refuse to turn over his tax forms; sued to block the release of his accounting records; sued to block the release of his banking records; and in general moved to block over 20 congressional investigations while throwing a blanket claim of executive privilege over the Mueller report and announcing that that isn’t going to change. He has refused to provide a single witness on any matter or to turn over a single piece of paper on any topic to the House since Democrats took control of it in January.
That absolute obstruction and the denial of congressional oversight authority have caused many Democrats to conclude that impeaching Donald Trump is the only way to uphold Congress’ Article I authority and, not incidentally, to investigate the actual crimes that Trump has clearly committed.
Five days ago, Speaker Pelosi said, “The president is self-impeaching. He’s putting out the case against himself. Obstruction, obstruction, obstruction. Ignoring subpoenas and the rest.” On Tuesday, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler said that Trump was “very impulsive. He’s very willful, and he’s very ignorant. I mean, unlike Richard Nixon, who knew exactly what he was doing when he was violating the law and violating norms and so forth, he just goes ahead.” According to Nadler, Trump is making it “increasingly difficult” not to begin impeachment.
Squaring that with the “policy agenda only” statements from Wednesday’s closed-door session seems difficult. In fact, it’s impossible.