Ocasio-Cortez Jumps Aboard Impeachment Train After Mueller Report Released


The Mueller report is out and there’s no Russian collusion. That leaves questions of obstruction of justice on the table, even though special counsel Robert Mueller declined to prosecute; Mueller’s report indicated he thought sitting presidents couldn’t be charged through the criminal justice system and therefore left the question open for Congress.

“Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President’s conduct,” the report read. “The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment.

“At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

So, whither Congress? Top Democrats in the House, where an impeachment would commence, didn’t seem particularly interested in pursuing the matter, at least not at the level of impeachment. But demurring at a political showdown doesn’t make headlines, and sometimes you’ve got to get your name out there. Even if your name takes up more column inches than almost anyone else on Capitol Hill.

In a tweet yesterday afternoon, Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York announced she’d be signing on to a resolution by fellow Rep. Rashida Tlaib that would take the first steps toward impeaching President Trump.

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Tlaib, the Michigan Democrat of “we’re gonna go in there and we’re going to impeach the motherf—–” fame, wants the House Judiciary Committee to go in there and look at whether the president has committed high crimes and/or misdemeanors. Her legislation, H.Res 257, was introduced before the full Mueller report was out, but I’m sure its author has never made any statements that would insinuate she had any preformed biases in the matter and merely wants the Judiciary Committee to take a reasoned, balanced look at — oh, wait.

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Anyhow, Rep. Tlaib is one of Ocasio-Cortez’s closest allies in the progressive wing of the party, so I’m fairly certain the New York Democrat wasn’t concerned about any preconceptions that might have inspired the bill.

“Mueller’s report is clear in pointing to Congress’ responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the President. It is our job as outlined in Article 1, Sec 2, Clause 5 of the US Constitution,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted hours after the Mueller report was released.

“As such, I’ll be signing onto @RashidaTlaib’s impeachment resolution.”

“While I understand the political reality of the Senate + election considerations, upon reading this DoJ report, which explicitly names Congress in determining obstruction, I cannot see a reason for us to abdicate from our constitutionally mandated responsibility to investigate,” she said in a follow-up tweet.

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“Many know I take no pleasure in discussions of impeachment. I didn’t campaign on it, & rarely discuss it unprompted,” she concluded. “We all prefer working on our priorities: pushing Medicare for All, tackling student loans, & a Green New Deal. But the report squarely puts this on our doorstep.”

I’m sure.

Now, let me reiterate serious discussion of impeachment has zero chance of happening in this Congress. How zero is zero? Take Nancy Pelosi, who declined comment on the possibility of impeachment after the report’s release: “Whatever the issue and challenge that we face, the Congress of the United States will honor its oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, to protect our democracy,” she told reporters in Belfast, according to Reuters. “The legislative branch has a responsibility of oversight of our democracy and we will exercise that.”

So, that isn’t an outright abnegation of the specter of impeachment, but certainly not the kind of “we’re gonna go in there…” statement you would expect from the most powerful Democrat on the day the Mueller report was released, a report which both Democrats and the media (yes, I repeat myself) believe reopens the door on obstruction of justice charges. Then again, the speaker said earlier this year that impeaching Trump was “just not worth it,” so one can glean a bit of insight on what direction her congressional caucus will take in “honor(ing) its oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, was a bit more realistic about the potential of impeachment proceedings.

“Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point,” Hoyer said. “Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months, and the American people will make a judgment.”

So, where is there an appetite for impeachment? One might say on the fringes, another might say in certain quarters where Twitter followers are the most precise gauge of one’s power. (Again, I repeat myself.) Hence, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s pointless announcement.

Now, I don’t believe Nancy Pelosi would like anything more than to spend the next 18 months lording over an impeachment probe, weightily discussing the “grave matter” before them and insisting that “Congress will not be silent.” In fact, that’s the exact language she used about the Mueller report in a letter to other Democrats after the report was released, promising to discuss it with them upon her return from Africa.

She realizes what any sensible politician should: Robert Mueller’s expansive definition of what might constitute the “corrupt exercise of power” probably won’t fly in practice. Some members of the House Democrat caucus, particularly those in swing districts, may not vote with the rest of the party; the impeachment will stall in the Senate, where the Democrats don’t even have a majority, much less the two-thirds vote necessary for a conviction; and it’s not going to benefit them electorally, especially in the aforementioned swing districts.

There are going to be investigations, sure. There’s going to be grumbling among the Democrats that what Trump did meets the bar for impeachment. However, there almost certainly won’t be an actual impeachment vote.

But that didn’t stop our favorite self-described socialist from making one of the most meaningless, quixotic public statements on a day that saw little shortage of them. All she did was sign onto a resolution moving toward impeachment that was originally sponsored by a representative who promised she would try to deliver impeachment before the Mueller investigation was completed.

It’s the most momentous thing Ocasio-Cortez has done since she quit Facebook. In the long run, the whole Facebook thing might have more of an impact.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture