“The case is not closed,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared of the Russia investigation Tuesday after her GOP Senate counterpart asserted the opposite.
Earlier Tuesday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had framed the Russia probe as “case closed.” But Pelosi flatly rejected McConnell’s assertion. “That’s just not a fact,” she noted.
McConnell has a huge personal stake in being done with the Russia investigation. It’s a political loser for Republicans if House Democrats succeed in continuing to remind the American people that Donald Trump tried to cheat the electoral system with Russian help, lied about it, tried to repeatedly shut down the investigation into it, and then appointed a GOP-approved attorney general who also lied about the investigation’s findings on Trump’s behalf. In addition, McConnell personally sought to hide Russia’s 2016 attack from the American people in advance of the election. So he’s not too keen on Democrats continuing to dig into the matter.
Nonetheless, it’s notable that McConnell wants to move on from the matter. The impeachment fight is clearly one Trump wants to have with Democrats—he’s practically funneling them toward it at every turn. But McConnell clearly doesn’t view Trump’s strategy as political slam dunk. Let’s face it: If Democrats continue to pull back the layers of Trump’s malfeasance and ultimately vote to impeach him, Senate Republicans will be left holding the bag to save his presidency. While that vote will play well to Trump’s rabid base, it could also be viewed as a betrayal of constitutional responsibilities by some two-thirds of voters. And for GOP senators in tough reelection bids, their ability to claim any independence from Trump will be zero. If their Republican colleagues vote to keep Trump in office, the entire GOP caucus will be inextricably linked to Trump and his continually sub-par approval numbers. In other words, an impeachment vote will likely serve to hyperpolarize the 2020 election, and not necessarily in the GOP’s favor. McConnell appears to be plenty aware of the downsides of such a vote.
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