We are the answer

EDITORIAL

BY ART CULLEN

Nothing changed in the political calculus Wednesday, despite House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-NY, perfectly framing the facts in his five minutes of questions for Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Nadler established that the evidence shows that President Trump obstructed justice in trying to interfere with Mueller’s investigation. Mueller declined to prosecute Trump because of Justice Department guidelines that a sitting President cannot be indicted; he can be indicted after leaving office. Mueller further testified that his office could not investigate collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government because collusion is not a legal term. Mueller said that under federal law he could not establish that a criminal conspiracy existed involving the campaign or the President with the Russians. He acknowledged that Trump refused to answer his questions about conspiracy or obstruction, so he could not come to a conclusion about conspiracy. Finally, Mueller pointed out that he filed 30 charges against Russian agents and members of the Trump campaign and administration. Those convictions speak for themselves: The Trump campaign was a den of liars and crooks.

Everyone in America has had full opportunity to learn those facts. We have been bombarded with them. And yet, going into the hearing not even a third of the voting public believed impeachment should be pursued. Public support was not strong initially for the Congressional impeachment hearings against President Nixon. The national mood can change quickly. But the facts of this case long have been exposed, and still the public has not been moved toward impeachment. Everyone understands that the Republican-controlled Senate will not carry the case forward, and most people believe it should be settled at the ballot box (which could be perverted by Russian hackers). Vice President Mike Pence is a scary alternative.

Presidential candidates simply have not been spending that much time on impeachment in Iowa. Elizabeth Warren was the first to press it, and continues to argue that there is a constitutional obligation. She has company among the field. Many of the candidates are with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is proceeding with appropriate caution. Warren should speak to her base and can afford to.

Iowa’s likely caucus-goers have baked all the facts into the cake. They despise President Trump. They want to defeat him. Their top issues are health care and climate change, according to repeated polls. They overwhelmingly believe that Trump has committed crimes but they do not believe that the congressional process will result in accountability, and therefore is a moot exercise.

Warren, for one, is making a much more important argument that the economy is not working for most of America. Iowa is losing ground. The Trump trade wars are hammering farmers and manufacturers from Iowa to Pennsylvania. Extreme rains hampered planting across the Corn Belt. UnityPoint is merging with Sanford Health. Health insurance premiums and drug prices are soaring. That’s what Iowans are dealing with.

Trump was elected because Iowans assumed the system is corrupt and broken. His presidency confirms the cynicism. So does the Mueller report. The answer lies in a campaign for integrity, that actually addresses deep structural problems that divide our nation, and that points out the moral and fiscal bankruptcy of the Trump Administration. The Mueller report lays it all out. Congress is incapable of dealing with it, or with listening to what voters actually think.

It will take Iowa caucus-goers to begin the process of straightening out a huge mess a half-century in the making, which culminated in the most vulgar and corrupt Presidency in American history. Impeachment will be a sideshow to that more important process that is taking place right now in our front yard.

Articles Section: