House members must demand impeachment: Editorial

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 24: Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Intelligence Committee about his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in the Rayburn House Office Building July 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. Mueller testified earlier in the day before the House Judiciary Committee in back-to-back hearings on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The testimony last Wednesday by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller in front of a pair of congressional committees may not have changed anyone’s opinion on the Trump-Russia investigation. In a highly polarized era, it’s hard to imagine what could dramatically alter the prevailing view of a large swath of the population — opinions are so entrenched that even potential bombshells have lost their power.

But the hearings were valuable nonetheless. The country was presented with a public servant widely praised for his integrity — and a lifelong Republican, no less — who confirmed a number of truths that have been in the public realm but possibly lost in the daily news cycle. The Russian government interfered in the 2016 election because it preferred to see Donald Trump win, Mueller said. The special counsel’s investigation did not “exonerate” the president. The probe, instead, found “substantial” evidence to support counts of obstruction of justice against Trump, among other troubling behavior.

Now, with the Mueller probe concluded and various congressional investigations underway, it could be tempting to say that we all need to move on with our lives. Surely there is no shortage of critical issues that demand the nation’s attention.

That instinct would be wrong.

The Mueller probe and hearing unveiled wrongdoing on a scale that is historically vast and which directly implicates the president. What it did not provide is a remedy. Mueller has been clear that he took guidance from a legal opinion that holds the president above the possibility of indictment during his time in office, even as the facts clearly show he would have faced such consequences under any other circumstances.

The only legal remedy from a constitutional standpoint is impeachment, which must come from the House of Representatives.

To date, only one of the five-member Connecticut House delegation has publicly supported impeachment — Fourth District Rep. Jim Himes. About 90 other Democrats are with him, but party leadership is decidedly not. “Those obstruction of justice charges as demonstrated today in the hearings could be indictable offenses by anybody else not the president of the United States,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday, even as she again came out against impeachment.

That means other Democrats need to apply pressure. The rest of the state delegation — Reps. John Larson, Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro and Jahana Hayes, of the First, Second, Third and Fifth districts, respectively — need to join Himes in calling for an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s conduct regarding the 2016 election as well other equally troubling actions during his term.

Impeachment is not removal from office — that’s up to the U.S. Senate. But it is far from a moot point. By declining to take necessary steps to hold Trump accountable for his absolute disregard for American laws and norms, Congress is effectively endorsing his behavior.

Harsh words are not enough. There is more than enough evidence to take the next step in providing a measure of accountability, and Connecticut’s congressional representatives need to demand that it happens.

Connecticut Media Group