After witness retaliation, Democrats should open impeachment inquiry on obstruction of justice

The House Democrats did an outstanding job prosecuting their impeachment case in the Senate.

Unfortunately, their inquiry and articles of impeachment were too narrowly drawn, neither encompassing the breadth of Trump’s abuses of power nor presenting a broad narrative to educate the American people. This they might have done through a slow and methodical exposition of the broad range of Trump’s high crimes and misdemanors.

They mistakenly thought they could protect their “moderate” members by avoiding a frontal attack on Trump through a broad impeachment inquiry.

They were wrong.

Nancy Pelosi was wrong not to push for a broad impeachment inquiry in the spring.

They were wrong not to issue subpoenas immediately, beginning with the first witness who refused to testify or turn over documents.

In a word, they subordinated their strategy to finely-calibrated wishful thinking, in what was and is in fact an all-out battle for their own political survival and for the soul of the Republic.

Now, acquitted, Donald Trump has doubled down, repeating his acts of obstruction of justice, including witness tampering and witness retaliation, in plain sight.

The House Democrats now face a stark choice:

Either they renew their battle to uphold the Constitution and the Rule of Law, now, or they fold their cards and try to squeak by Trump and the Republicans on their “bread and butter” issues in the November 2020 elections.

James Carville has correctly warned that there is but one overriding issue in 2020: Will Trump be voted out of office in November?

To achieve that goal Democrats must demonstrate that they can fight to achieve their goals and defend their values. Trump will fight and defend his values.  Will they?

Will they overcome their fear of Trump and make an all-out effort to hold the president to account for his continuing abuses of power?

It is important that the historical record be clearly established.

Trump is at this moment obstructing justice, retaliating against witnesses, in plain sight.

If the House Democrats don’t challenge him, immediately, they can forget the 2020 elections.

House Democrats should now open a broad impeachment inquiry into his obstruction of justice, in retaliating against witnesses and in the cases detailed in the Mueller Report.

They should also investigate and hold hearings into whether Attorney General William Barr’s new regulations requiring his approval of any FBI investigations into illegal foreign campaign contributions for the 2020 elections represent an attempt to stifle any such investigations. Administration witnesses should be called to shed light on any discussions within the administration regarding the real intent of these regulations.

House Democrats should hold hearings, at a steady but not rushed pace, from now into the fall. Articles of impeachment can be drafted after the elections, if needed.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, The Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, The Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.

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