No one at Politico has been a bigger cheerleader for impeachment than legal affairs columnist Renato Mariotti and the recent decline in public interest in this seems to be sending poor Renato over the edge.
This can be seen in his Monday column, “There’s a Simple Term for What Trump Did and Democrats Should Stick With It.” See, quid pro quo proved to not resonate well with the public according to focus group analysis which is why Nancy Pelosi began hyping “bribery” instead. Unfortunately the “bribery” shtick also did not work well either so what to do? Mariotti’s suggestion is that since plan A “quid pro quo” did not work nor did Plan B “bribery” then why not go to Plan C “abuse of power?”
Yeah, yeah! That could be just the ticket to make poor Renato’s impeachment dream come true as he explains.
The major challenge Democrats face is what to call this scheme, because “quid pro quo” isn’t itself an impeachable offense. Throughout the hearings, we’ve heard terms ranging from bribery to extortion to abuse of power. Democrats will need to pick charges that will pass the House and give them the best chance to move public opinion and pick up Republican votes in the Senate.
“Abuse of power” is an obvious choice because it fits Trump’s conduct. Presidents are not supposed to use our tax dollars for their own gain, and Trump had no authority to withhold aid that had been appropriated by Congress. Charging Trump with abusing his power as president speaks to what is wrongful about what he did.
Sniff! Mariotti doesn’t think “quid pro quo” is very useful now but just a little while ago on November 5 he treated that term as a superstar in “Democrats, You’re About to Go to Trial. This Is How You Win.”
But Democrats need to focus on the evidence they have, not the evidence they’re missing. And they have more than enough to prove the quid pro quo.
“Quid pro quo,” you were such a strong contender only to be brutally cast aside by Mariotti for his new love, “abuse of power.” One interesting subset of “abuse of power” could be abuse by tweet.
Democrats would be wise to go beyond Trump’s withholding of documents and evidence and include other ways in which he obstructed their investigation, including his public comments in which he lied to the public about the Ukraine scandal (like when he denied withholding aid to Ukraine) and his attempts to intimidate witnesses, such as Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
Yes. Trump hurt the feelings of Yovanovitch when Adam Schiff read it out loud to her in the middle of her congressional testimony. An impeachable offense? Perhaps but only if you can stretch as much as Mariotti in order to obtain his beloved impeachment.
Democrats should keep the story they’re telling to the public as simple as possible and avoid playing into Trump’s argument that they are throwing the kitchen sink at him.
Sorry, but that kitchen sink ship has already sailed.
…House Democrats—including Speaker Nancy Pelosi—have begun calling Trump’s conduct “bribery.” I can see why that is an attractive label for Trump’s misconduct. The average American knows what bribery is but has never heard of “abuse of power.”
“Bribery” has been test marketed with focus groups. Why would you want to cast it aside for the untested “abuse of power?”
In practical terms, it may not matter what Democrats include in the articles of impeachment, given that Republicans appear unwilling to waver in their support of Trump despite overwhelming evidence of his misconduct. Even retiring Rep. Will Hurd, a former CIA officer and sometimes Trump critic appears ready to vote against impeachment, although that could have something to do with the presidential run he is contemplating.
So why not just go with the kitchen sink? Do you really care as long as you get the impeachment that you now obviously fear is slipping away?
Exit question: Could Trump be impeached for abuse of columnist?