Democrats Continue Search For The Smoking Gun They Already Have

WASHINGTON ― House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insists President Donald Trump has committed crimes and is engaged in a cover-up. She also insists the remedy for these crimes and this cover-up is not an impeachment inquiry, but more investigations ― ostensibly to uncover crimes that special counsel Robert Mueller has already uncovered.

If the bottomless pleas for more oversight seem like a road to nowhere, you may finally understand how leaders plan to quell those in the caucus who want to impeach the president: continued investigations, tough talk about Trump, and calls for even more investigations.

Pelosi has navigated the last 2 1/2 months using some form of that strategy. Whenever the calls for impeachment get too loud, she’s able to hold off Resistance Twitter by saying Trump is “self-impeaching,” or that she’s “done with him,” or that he’s obstructed justice, or he’s throwing a “temper tantrum,” or “engaged in a cover-up,” or belongs in prison. And then she continues touting investigations that have thus far failed to reveal anything remotely as damaging as the Mueller report.

The strategy works for memes and “Yas Queen” T-shirts, but has been wearing thin within Pelosi’s own caucus.

“We’ve done the oversight,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) told HuffPost on Thursday. “They’re committing the crimes. We’ve won in court. They’re committing the crimes anyway. They’ve left us no choice but to impeach and we won’t impeach.”

Ocasio-Cortez has advocated impeaching Trump since the release of the Mueller report, and she agreed calling for more oversight was just a tactic of Democratic leaders to avoid impeachment.

“I don’t know what else we need,” she said.

With the news Friday that Mueller’s testimony is being delayed another week, the progressives who had stood by Pelosi’s strategy finally seem to be realizing they’re getting played.

“It’s beginning to feel like a slow-walk,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) said Friday. “I’ll say that.”

“I’m not happy with the glacial pace of accountability,” he said.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who famously said on the first day of Congress that Democrats were going to “impeach the motherfucker,” said on Friday that there was “no time to wait.”

“These are years in time that we can’t get back for the American people,” she said, adding that her election was a referendum on holding this president accountable. “And I just can’t look away from that duty and responsibility.”

But that’s not how most Democrats see it. Like Pelosi, most Democrats are happy to continue calling for more oversight.

“Well, the thing is, we got to continue building the case with the American public,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said.

The excuse HuffPost heard most often from members was that the continued need for oversight was more about bringing the American people along rather than exposing new information. Even Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders saw the need to inform the public.

“The reality is not everybody is as steeped in it as we are on the Judiciary Committee,” CPC co-chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said Thursday, though Jayapal is one of the 82 members who have called for opening an impeachment inquiry.