It’s one thing to pledge to oppose policies you disagree with, or to investigate wrongdoing. It’s bad enough to vow to block U.S. Supreme Court nominees, which Republicans are also doing.
But it’s beyond the pale to openly talk about impeaching Hillary Clinton before she’s even elected, as Donald Trump and some Republicans allies are in the final week of this ugly campaign.
By their cowardly silence, GOP leaders in Congress are complicit in this anti-democratic outrage. And if they don’t speak out, Republicans running for Congress in California and across the country will be tarred as well.
In their closing argument to voters, Trump and top surrogates are warning of a “constitutional crisis” if Clinton wins on Tuesday because of her email scandal. That’s breathtakingly hypocritical since they’re the ones making a crisis more likely with talk of a rigged election and impeachment.
One of the first to fan the impeachment flames was Rep. Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican who, after the Orlando nightclub massacre in June, said that Democrats support gun control because they want to distract from the fact that Muslims want to kill all homosexuals.
Is that the kind of company GOP candidates in California want to keep?
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, who is trying to unseat Rep. Ami Bera, ducked a chance to repudiate the impeachment talk. “I don’t have the luxury of making legal conclusions before investigations are completed,” he replied to an editorial board member in an email, even though Republicans calling for impeachment are doing exactly that.
Of all people, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, who made a career out of investigating President Barack Obama, is urging the GOP to tamp down the impeachment talk.
“OK, I’m gonna … be the adult in the room, and say, ‘Calm down, back off, it’s not gonna happen,’ ” Issa, who is locked in a tough re-election fight, said on a San Diego radio show Wednesday.
When Issa is the voice of reason, it tells you how rabid the Republican Party has become.
Republicans who should know better, including Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, have jumped on the impeachment train. McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that Clinton exposed classified information in her emails and that amounts to treason.
Yes, Clinton’s handling of emails on her private server while secretary of state was extremely careless, as FBI Director James Comey said in July. But he also concluded that there was no crime that a reasonable prosecutor would pursue.
Voters ought to remember that we still have no idea what’s in this latest batch of emails found on a computer used by top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. FBI agents are still scouring them, and there’s no indication yet – if there ever will be – that they’ll show that Clinton committed a “high crime or misdemeanor,” the standard for impeachment, much less a criminal offense.
Rep. Xavier Becerra of Los Angeles, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House, told The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board Thursday that he sees no basis for impeaching Clinton, and that Democrats would fight any such effort “tooth and nail.”
Top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco put out a strongly worded statement Thursday that trying to impeach Clinton for “alleged activities from before the election would be a brazen attempt to nullify the vote of the American people, outside our constitutional framework and destructive to the framers’ intent.”
Voters also ought to notice that Democrats, though they are warning that Trump is uniquely unqualified to be president, aren’t talking about trying to remove him from office if he’s elected.
Stumping for Clinton in battleground Florida and North Carolina this week, President Barack Obama rightly criticized Republicans for promising more dysfunction in Washington, D.C., and for vowing to impeach.
“How does our democracy function like that?” he asked.
That’s a very good question – one that undecided voters should think long and hard about.