The Trump/Russia investigation has been a political narrative, plain and simple, with two objectives, explains Andrew C. McCarthy in NRO.
- To hamstring Donald Trump’s capacity to press the agenda on which he ran (immigration enforcement, conservative judicial nominees, deregulation, and a military build-up, along with skepticism about military interventions, free trade, and NATO).
- To render Trump unelectable come autumn 2020.
Hard Ball Politics to Drive Trump’s Numbers Down
Hem Trump in. Politicize the intelligence and law-enforcement apparatus. Signal to the public through intelligence leaks and suggestive official public statements that the president was suspected of conspiring with the Kremlin. Convince Trump that using the presidency’s arsenal to fight back would just bolster the obstruction case against him. Sic a special counsel on him if he lashed out anyway. Use the investigation as a rationale for slow-walking Trump nominees and for refusing to deal with him on such critical issues as border enforcement. Drive his numbers down.
If House Democrats believe the president has abused his powers so outrageously that he should be stripped of them, they have it within their power to file impeachment articles and trigger a trial in the Senate. Impeachment is a political process. It would be perfectly appropriate for all anti-Trump partisans to make the public case that the president should be removed from office.
With the transparently eager cooperation of Mueller’s team, they intimate that the president could have been charged and would have been convicted. They suggest that, although not charged, he has not been “exonerated,” effectively imposing on him the burden to establish his innocence.
The anti-Trump grandstanding has nothing to do with the law, as McCarthy points out.
The point has never been to make a prosecutable legal case against the president. Nor is it to pursue impeachment, though there will be plenty of talk about impeachment. The point is to place the tools of the criminal-justice process in the service of the Democrats’ 2020 political campaign.
The criminal investigation, in turn, was always a pretext for congressional impeachment chatter. And the congressional impeachment chatter is a pretext for the real agenda: Making Trump an ineffective president now, and an un-reelectable president 18 months from now.
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