House Democrats Mull Pivot Back To Russiagate To Pad Weak Case For Impeachment

As House Democrats cobble together a 'less than compelling' case for impeachment based on President Trump's request that Ukraine investigate Joe Biden and his son for Obama-era dealings with the appearance of obvious corruption, some members of the House Judiciary Committee and 'other more liberal-minded lawmakers and congressional aides' are looking back to Russiagate and other accusations for new material to include in articles of impeachment, according to the Washington Post.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee and other more liberal-minded lawmakers and congressional aides have been privately discussing the possibility of drafting articles that include obstruction of justice or other “high crimes” they believe are clearly outlined in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report — or allegations that Trump has used his office to benefit his bottom line. -Washington Post

That said, moderate Democrats wary of impeachment blowback in their GOP-heavy districts have pushed back against the idea, according to the report. In addition, Democratic leaders seeking to keep the impeachment case focused on Ukraine have resisted expanding the case against Trump as well.

The debate is expected to play out in leadership and caucus meetings this week, as the House Intelligence Committee prepares to hand the impeachment inquiry to the House Judiciary Committee. The Intelligence Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday night on its final report on Ukraine, allowing Judiciary to then work on writing articles of impeachment based on that document.

But the Judiciary Committee also has asked other investigative panels to send any findings of Trump-related misdeeds that they believe are impeachable. And many of the committee members are hoping articles will refer to and cite their own months-long investigation into the Mueller report, which described 10 possible instances of obstruction by the president.

"One crime of these sorts is enough, but when you have a pattern, it is even stronger," said Rep. Pramila Jaypal (D-WA), a member of the House Judiciary Committee and co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus - who added that there's a strong case for citing the Mueller report in impeachment articles.

"If you show that this is not only real in what’s happening with Ukraine, but it’s the exact same pattern that Mueller documented . . . to me, that just strengthens the case," she insisted.

Trump is accused of holding up nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine while simultaneously requesting that newly elected president, Volodomyr Zelensky, investigate the Bidens as well as other matters related to the 2016 US election. Zelensky, who didn't know the aid was paused at the time, has insisted there was no quid pro quo, while several anti-Trump ambassadors who testified in front of Schiff's committee could not establish that the aid hinged on Trump's request. Instead, they assumed it did.

Perhaps this is about more than just having a weak hand on the Ukraine claims. Assuming the House votes to impeach, the GOP-controlled Senate will then hold a trial. If Democrats expand the scope of the impeachment, Senate Republicans would be forced to consider all claims levied at Trump - effectively reducing the spotlight on Ukraine by overwhelming the proceedings.

Whatever the case, even if the Trump-Ukraine claims are forced to share space with Russiagate and emoulments arguments for impeachment, Senate Republicans can still subpoena Joe and Hunter Biden to testify about Burisma, as well as House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), whose staff communicated with the CIA officer whose whistleblower complaint is at the heart of the impeachment.

Earlier this week, House Republicans issued a "prebuttal" of the upcoming House Intelligence Committee report expected to outline claims that Trump abused his power.

In a 123-page document, GOP investigators assert that Democrats failed to make the case that Trump committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors by withholding military aid and a highly sought-after White House meeting to compel Ukraine to launch investigations into his political rivals. Nor, the Republicans say, do Democrats have a basis for impeachment in Trump’s decision to spurn House document requests and witness subpoenas pertaining to Trump’s Ukraine dealings.

Instead, the GOP document contends, the impeachment effort is “an orchestrated campaign to upend our political system” — one “based on the accusations and assumptions of unelected bureaucrats who disagreed with President Trump’s policy initiatives and processes.”

 According to the GOP report, "The evidence presented does not prove any of these Democrat allegations, and none of the Democrats’ witnesses testified to having evidence of bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanor."