A few thoughts about a couple of comments from the Idaho congressional delegation on the prospective impeachment of President Donald Trump.
Note first the fact that this delegation has said as much as it has, which though it isn’t a lot, still makes it one of the more vocal Republican state delegations around the country.
Rep. Mike Simpson issued this on Sept. 25: “Democrats have been threatening to impeach President Trump before he was sworn into office. To date, I have seen nothing that warrants impeachment, and there have certainly been ample opportunities to analyze their many accusations during their countless investigations. However, they have their constitutional right to proceed in their relentless endeavor. I, for one, believe the American people deserve more from their elected officials. Our country faces real issues including immigration reform, cyber-security, and funding the federal government for fiscal year 2020 which starts next week, and we should be focused on those things.”
We’ll come back to the substance of the charges, but for now think a second about the “real issues” — which, yes, are real issues — the representative urges Congress to focus on. What he leaves unsaid is: Why can’t Congress go ahead and do those things?
Of course it can, if it chooses. The impeachment-inquiry activity, central a topic of discussion as it may be, is preoccupying the actual work of only a small portion of the House of Representatives — mainly one committee, and peripherally a couple of others — and most of the work of the chamber can and does go on. In the last couple of weeks, the Idaho congressional delegation has issued a bunch of press releases outlining its progress and activity on a variety of fronts, from rural lands payments to anti-Semitism, having nothing to do with impeachment. I just attended a town hall meeting held (in another state) by a member of Congress, and impeachment occupied no more than three or four minutes of the hourlong session. If impeachment brings congressional things to a slower grind than usual, that’s not because it has to.
Of course, you have to wonder how much progress Congress this term would make on many really significant subjects anyway, even if the prospect of impeachment were nowhere in sight.
Simpson naturally is entitled to his read of what does or doesn’t constitute reasonable grounds for impeachment; odds are he (and Rep. Russ Fulcher) will get their turn at voting and speaking on that subject sometime in the weeks ahead.
As for addressing the substance, Sen. Jim Risch had an excellent suggestion.
In a recent Boise radio interview, he said, “Let me give some advice to your listeners, this is really simple. The Democrats are saying this is terrible, the president is a traitor, and we Republicans say, ‘Get outta here, there’s nothing there there.’ So, look: Don’t take my word for it, I’m a partisan. Don’t take the Democrats’ word for it, they’re partisans. Certainly don’t take the national media’s word for it, they are really partisan, they’re full of hate and vitriol for this guy. Read it yourself. ... It’s online, every word. ... It’s really easy to read, it’s not legalese or diplomatese. It’s just two people talking. And you can understand it crystal clear and can make up your own mind.”
Spot on. The core of what you need to see is right there in the official documents, which are neither long nor hard to read, and, as the senator suggested, easy to find with your nearest search engine. Such as the request from the American president saying, “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great” — the request in essence that a foreign government conduct opposition research on one of the American president’s political opponents.
Of course, we could add to the must-read list a few must-views that also make up original source material, such as the Thursday press conference Trump held in which he publicly asked the government of China, with which he and this country have a troubled relationship, to do the same as he asks of Ukraine, or his press event with the leader of Finland.
Checking out the original source materials on all this is my preferred approach, and I recommend it over whatever the talking heads have to say. Risch was exactly right about that.
We can all multi-task. And we should.