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Remember when the Republicans prepared impeachment for Hillary before the 2016 election?

Remember when the Republicans prepared impeachment for Hillary before the 2016 election?

by digby


My Salon column this morning:

During the last month of the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump took to issuing a stern warning to America about what they could expect to face if Hillary Clinton were to be elected president.  In Cedar Rapids, Iowa he noted the re-opening of the email case and called it the "biggest political scandal since Watergate." In Miami he told the crowd, “if Hillary Clinton were to be elected, it would create an unprecedented and protracted constitutional crisis. Haven’t we just been through a lot with the Clintons, right?” Later that day in Orlando he upped the ante saying, “Hillary is likely to be under investigation for many years, probably concluding in a criminal trial.”

Two days later in Denver he made the argument even more explicit:

“Her current scandals and controversies will continue throughout her presidency and we will make it honestly, look, it's gonna be virtually impossible for her to govern. Now, the Republicans have talked very tough and the Democrats. It's gonna be just another mess for another four years, folks. A mess. We've got to get back to work, right? I mean, we have to get back to work.”
He wasn't the only one making this argument. The Republicans were basically telling the country that if Clinton were to be elected they would make life a living hell.  Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah, then slated to be the next chairman of the House Oversight Committee  told the Washington Post, “even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan backed him up and GOP candidates across the land gleefully promised to immediately begin the investigations.

On the day before the election the Post reported that the Republicans were already planning an impeachment inquiry:

Chairmen of two congressional committees said in media interviews this week they believe Clinton committed impeachable offenses in setting up and using a private email server for official State Department business. 
And a third senior Republican, the chairman of a House Judiciary subcommittee, told The Washington Post he is personally convinced Clinton should be impeached for influence peddling involving her family foundation. He favors further congressional investigation into that matter.
Senator Ron Johnson R-WI had already made up his mind telling his local paper, “I would say yes, high crime or misdemeanor, I believe she is in violation of both laws.” Congressman Michael McCaul R-TX, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said he believed Clinton had committed treason with her email server.

This was a very effective campaign tactic and I would guess that more than a few voters were concerned. The GOP made it very clear that if she won they were preparing to launch the political equivalent of a nuclear war.  If people wanted to avoid that they should probably vote for Trump and all that unpleasantness could be avoided.

On the day of Trump's inauguration, Chaffetz posted a picture of him shaking hands with Hillary Clinton at the ceremony and he captioned it:

So pleased she is not the President. I thanked her for her service and wished her luck. The investigation continues.
For mysterious reasons, Chaffetz soon gave up his seat but the congressional Republicans carried on. The oversight committees spent most of their time blocking and covering for Trump and the Russia investigation but they have kept up their insinuations about Clinton and Trump's ecstatic crowds still chant "lock her up" at the mere mention of her name.

I mention all this ancient history just to put into context the absurd whining and caterwauling by the president and his minions over what he has taken to calling "presidential harassment." They can dish it out but they sure can't take it. I'm afraid they are going to have to buckle up because their turn in hell has finally come.

Last week's astonishing testimony by the former Trump Organization Executive Vice  President Michael Cohen was just the opener. On Monday the Judiciary Committee sent out requests to 80 different Trump associates asking for documents pertaining to a dozen different scandals that were bottled up by the Republicans in the last congress, all pointing to possible abuse of power and obstruction of justice by the president and his henchmen.

These requests went out to virtually every name the media has mentioned in relation to the Trump campaign and the Trump organization as well as the White House and various GOP outside actors.  They are asking for information regarding contacts with Russians, meetings with Putin, the June 9th Trump Tower meeting, Trump Tower Moscow, Cambridge Analytica, emoluments, hush money, pardons, sanctions and much more.  And that's just the Judiciary Committee. Intelligence, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Ways and Means and Oversight are also following their own leads which includes the issues with Jared and Ivanka's security clearances, Deutche Bank loans, and the tax returns.

The White House calls this a fishing expedition but that's not correct. The whole country has been watching these scandals unfold in the press while the authorities operate (as they should) without commenting. The evidence is out there but the press cannot compel people to speak nor can they put the whole story in context. And at this point we don't even know if the Special Counsel's Russia probe will ever be fully revealed to the people. This is the congress doing their job at long last. And with this president,  it's a very big job.

The Republican House did absolutely no oversight of the Trump administration in its first two years, making a mockery of their constitutional duties. And that was a mistake. Had they even attempted  a pretense of oversight of the White House, the category five hurricane that just hit the administration might have been downgraded to a tropical storm. Instead, the president is going into his re-election campaign not only facing the results of criminal investigations from the Special Counsel and various US Attorneys offices but he will be dealing with an onslaught of pent up inquiries from the congress.

Assuming the president is on the ballot in 2020, don't be surprised to hear the Democrat on the stump saying "it's gonna be just another mess for another four years, folks. A mess. We've got to get back to work, right? I mean, we have to get back to work.” And they'll be right to do so. This long list of investigations the Democrats have finally launched at long last is just the tip of the iceberg.