Progressive women in Congress are leading on impeachment proceedings, and—let me be the first to say—duh. Post–Mueller report, which was released yesterday in a flurry of very large black redaction bars , and as establishment Democratic leaders in the House pass the buck on impeachment for the umpteenth time, it’s our legislative body’s newest members who are showing some backbone. If you’ve been following these women, including Representatives Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar , since they took office, you’re not surprised either.
Tlaib actually introduced impeachment legislation all the way back in March (remember March?), which calls for an investigation by the House Judiciary Committee into whether Trump had committed impeachable offenses. That was even before the release of the Mueller report, which doesn’t say it can prove collusion or any of the other words Trump has been bleating—I mean, tweeting—for two years but does say numerous other things. It details the many ways in which Trump’s attempts to obstruct the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election were derailed by his own perhaps more competent, definitely more self-aware staff. “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” the special counsel concludes on the case of obstruction.
What’s more, the Mueller report itself references impeachment , effectively reminding Congress that the legislature, under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, “has authority to prohibit a president’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice. . . . The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.”
And yet longtime Democratic leaders are already running away from impeachment again. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said yesterday that he didn’t think impeachment efforts were “worthwhile.” He continued, “Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgment.” The impeachment bogeyman seems to have also scared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said in March that impeachment is “so divisive” and “divides the country.”
Never mind that it’s the Republicans —the opposition the Dem establishment is so worried about empowering via dramatic, messy impeachment proceedings—who are the ones that paved the way for just that. Watch videos of not just Senator Lindsey Graham but Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley outlining the reasons why it was perfectly appropriate for Congress to impeach President Bill Clinton in 1998 despite him not having legally committed a crime—yes, all those same guys were around then, too. And did those impeachment aerobics result in huge Republican losses in the next election? In fact, no !
So thank goodness for our newest crop of congressional representatives who went to Washington with the intent of doing something rather than just keeping their seats long enough to appear on C-Span (both when you could only watch on cable and when you could stream it online). Yesterday, Ocasio-Cortez confirmed that she would be signing on to Tlaib’s impeachment resolution, with Pressley and Omar also expressing support on Twitter.
Again, the women of the Progressive Caucus have been putting their focus on bold legislative moves since they took office in January, whether it be the landmark Green New Deal resolution sponsored by AOC, Omar’s NO BAN legislation , or Pressley’s sponsorship of the BE HEARD Act to prevent workplace sexual harassment by abolishing the tipped minimum wage, mandatory arbitration, and pre-employment nondisclosure agreements. (All of these positions were taken with the cosponsorship and cooperation of longer-serving members, by the way, notably Congressional Progressive Caucus leader Pramila Jayapal, Representative Ro Khanna, Senators Patty Murray and Bernie Sanders , and others.) Boomer-era leaders like Pelosi and Hoyer lived through two impeachment proceedings (though Nixon resigned before they could be carried through)—like early retirement, must impeachment be another thing that millennials just won’t get that our parents did?