House Democrats made a conscious decision to keep impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump as short and efficient as possible. On one hand, they had sensible reasons for wanting to do so — they were concerned that a protracted impeachment battle that drags into the 2020 election would lose engagement with the American people and draw criticism for attempting to interfere with the election.
But Thursday, NBC News analyst Kurt Bardella argued that Democrats may also have caused problems for themselves by making the impeachment process too short and setting arbitrary deadlines.
“From the start of the impeachment investigation, Democrats put themselves at a disadvantage by making it known they wanted to conclude the entire process by the end of the year,” wrote Bardella. “Some Democrats were reportedly concerned about the impeachment process stretching into the presidential primary season, prompting recent headlines like, ‘Dems sprint to the impeachment finish line.’ Speaker Nancy Pelosi, could, of course, take more time if needed. But even the perception of this timeline gives Trump the chance to effectively run out the clock.”
The key problem, he wrote, is that these deadlines have allowed Trump and his allies to withhold key documents and obstruct officials from testifying, then claim they had no choice because the deadlines were unfair. The GOP’s impeachment expert, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, complained that the process was illegitimate because not all witnesses have been subpoenaed. On the other hand, Trump is refusing to allow chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, former National Security Adviser John Bolton, or former White House counsel Don McGahn to respond to subpoenas, arguing that the timing made it impossible. Federal courts could theoretically resolve the issue and compel testimony, but not within the timeline Democrats have set for themselves.
“As has become par for the course, Trump and his Republican defenders are completely ignoring facts and recent history, but the expedited impeachment timeline is helping them,” wrote Bardella. “For better or worse, impeachment will be won or lost in the court of public opinion.”
As MSNBC’s Garrett Haake noted, hearings on articles of impeachment could take place next week, and the articles themselves could be drafted within a few weeks — with at least one for bribery, one for obstruction of justice, and a potential third article that could be related to information from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.