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Media Tries to Get Democrats to Move Away From Impeachment

The Washington Post and others took their measure of special counsel Robert Mueller’s appearance before two committees of the House of Representatives on Wednesday and have decided since the real goal – expressed almost as openly in their news pages as on their editorial pages – is to defeat President Trump, pro-impeachment forces need to accept defeat and move on.

“Democrats struggle to figure out next move against Trump after Mueller hearing falls flat,” read the headline on a story by Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis that ran Friday [1]. Democrats “are struggling to figure out their next move … after the highly anticipated hearing with Robert S. Mueller III fell flat, forcing some Democrats to second-guess their strategy while aggravating divisions in the party over impeachment.”

In another Post piece, Paul Kane wrote that Congress’ summer recess would prove the death of the impeachment movement [2]. “After the last votes were cast Thursday, lawmakers bolted from the House and will not return until Sept. 9, leaving  behind a vacuum that makes it difficult to keep up the drumbeat for beginning impeachment proceedings against President Trump,” he wrote [2] in “’I just don’t know yet’: Democrats head into long recess undecided on impeaching Trump.”

He wrote [2] that “filling that void became more important after Wednesday’s testimony from Robert S. Mueller III landed without much drama.” Democrats had spent weeks hyping the hearing as their opportunity to “provide electricity to his more than 400-page report” – to “bring it to life” as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said – but “Instead, the former FBI director played the part of a boring, at times halting, witness who did not want to be there.”

Vox declared that Mueller’s testimony had not moved the needle toward impeachment at all, [3] even though nine Democrat members have announced since the hearing that they now support proceeding toward impeachment [4] in some manner.

“Behind closed doors, Democrats are no closer to impeachment post-Mueller” read the headline on Ella Nilsen’s story [3]. “Despite and impeachment push from a high-profile committee chair, some Democrats fear their window is closing,” read the subhead.

Even Chris Cillizza of CNN admitted the hearing did not produce the rush to impeachment Democrats had hoped for [5]. “Impeachment fizzles against Trump,” read the headline on this story.

“On the day after Robert Mueller’s long-awaited, much-hyped testimony in front of two different House committees about his nearly two-year-long investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, only a few House Democrats added their names to the list of members of Congress supporting impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump,” Cillizza wrote in his lead. [5]

It is “not insignificant” that members added their names to the list of those favoring impeachment. “But it is well short of the sort of avalanche of calls for impeachment that some Democrats – particularly liberals – had hoped to see in the aftermath of Mueller’s testimony,” he wrote [5]. “That hope was based on the idea that hearing the former special counsel elucidate the findings of Mueller’s 448-page report would drive home – to members of Congress and their constituents – the depth and breadth of Trump’s wrongdoing, triggering a dam-breaking series of impeachment calls.”

Bade and DeBonis laid out the nature of the political standoff in the Democrat caucus [1]. “Several centrist Democrats seized on the absence of a major revelation to argue it was time to end House investigations into whether Trump tried to obstruct the former special counsel’s probe and pivot to legislation,” they wrote.

“’Anyone who was looking for the smoking gun yesterday didn’t get it,’ said Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-N.Y., who ousted a Republican incumbent by fewer than 500 votes in last year’s midterm elections. ‘It’s time to move on and focus on getting some bills passed here that can get signed into law.’

“But that plea had not effect on the pro-impeachment Democrats, who dug in, insisting that House oversight of Trump and his administration had been ineffective and pressed for launching proceedings.”