Two days ago, a coterie of the dumbest Republicans in the House introduced impeachment proceedings against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—the man tasked with overseeing Robert Mueller’s special counsel. They were led by the head of the Freedom Caucus, Mark Meadows, and Jim Jordan—who is in the news thanks to the sexual abuse scandal at Ohio State—as a bunch of members of the wrestling team claim that Jordan was aware of the former team doctor sexually abusing them while Jordan coached Ohio State wrestling in the 1980s.
There are 236 Republicans in the house. Only 11 signed on to the articles of impeachment for Rosenstein (which is ostensibly a way for them to shut down the Mueller investigation). One day after introducing articles of impeachment, Mark Meadows said he was tabling the initiative. Not only did Republicans like Speaker Paul Ryan come out against it (Jim Jordan announced his bid to replace Ryan shortly after articles of impeachment were filed), but even Trump lackeys like Devin Nunes did not join Jordan and Meadows in this wild goose chase.
This effort to impeach Rosenstein was beyond embarrassing. The document put together by Republicans got basic facts wrong. For example, Rod Rosenstein was confirmed by the Senate on April 25, 2017. Per this hilarious bout of incompetence from Jordan and Meadows (emphasis mine):
Under Mr. Rosenstein’s supervision, Christopher Steele’s political opposition research was neither vetted before it was used in October 2016 nor fully revealed to the FISC, given Director Comey’s June 2017 testimony the dossier was “salacious and unverified.”
When a coup against Mueller like this is so stupid that it can’t even get Devin Nunes’ backing, you know that you’ve done something truly special. Meadows and Jordan wanted to use House rules to file a “privileged motion,” which would mean forcing a vote on impeachment by today, but House Republicans up for reelection put that idea to rest immediately. No one in a competitive race wants to go into the fall looking like they’re undermining an investigation which has returned indictments of five U.S. nationals, 26 Russians, one Dutchman, and three Russian organizations—including their military intelligence. Former Trump advisors George Papadopoulos, Rick Gates and Michael Flynn all pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. If this really is a “witch hunt,” then witches are real, and they’re meddling in our elections.
What the Republicans say this is about, is documents. They’re claiming that the Department of Justice has not acquiesced to their requests to see all kinds of information that Congress is not entitled to see. Because we live in a country which (theoretically) respects the autonomy of ongoing investigations, there are very few mechanisms to obtain highly classified information which is still being understood by investigators. However, given the absolute joke that was their filing of articles of impeachment, this is clearly not about getting more documentation. If Rosenstein opened up the entire DOJ’s archives to Meadows and Jordan, it would not satiate their true demand. In fact, it may make them more likely to impeach Rosenstein given the wealth of evidence the DOJ has uncovered to this point.
I’ll let Republican Representative Louie Gohmert—one of the 11 Republicans who signed on to this abomination—tell us exactly what their true aim is with this initiative: “We were just kind of hoping somebody else would do it first, either [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions or the president.”
This is so stupid. Let’s follow the logic inherent in the Representative from Alabama’s statement: Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation—which is the entire reason that Rosenstein is overseeing it in the first place—and Gohmert wants his action to inspire Jeff Sessions to…unrecuse himself? It doesn’t make any sense, which helps illuminate their true reason behind this pathetic attempt to impeach Rosenstein: they want to give Trump cover to do it on his own.
It’s no secret that President Trump wants to fire Robert Mueller. If he wasn’t so petrified of the political firestorm that would ensue, he would have done it the moment Mueller was appointed. Meadows, Jordan and the rest of the useful idiots in the House are simply trying to enable Trump to do what he wants to do. The problem is that their timing could not be worse. Meadows claims that they will carve out some time to discuss censure in September when the House reconvenes, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that happening given how close that is to the midterm elections.
But it still might, because people like Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan prove that despite its proclivity for pure evil, the GOP still has more stupidity than barbarity in it. Republicans running for their political lives want no part of this effort, but the House has been gerrymandered to a point where there are still enough safe GOP seats to insulate these moron authoritarians from democracy. What we are witnessing is a split opening up in the GOP between serving Dear Leader’s political interests or their own.
Whether they call it impeachment or censure doesn’t really matter. It’s a semantic argument that Jordan and Meadows probably don’t even fully understand. The real point behind all of this is to enable our president to exercise his worst instincts, and as revelations continue to pour out of Mueller’s investigation, the calls from Trumplandia to rid themselves of this boogeyman will only continue to get louder. Impeachment will not get through Congress since it would require Democratic votes to pass in the Senate, so this is all about convincing our harebrained president to do what he really wants to do: burn the Department of Justice to the ground and remake it in his image.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.