As Donald Trump’s latest scandal increases the odds of his impeachment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is disappointed – not with presidential misconduct, but with Democratic efforts to “politicize” the controversy.
“I believe it’s extremely important that their work be handled in a secure setting with adequate protections in a bipartisan fashion – and based on facts rather than leaks to the press. It’s regrettable that House Intelligence [Committee] Chairman [Adam] Schiff [D-Calif.] and Sen. [Charles] Schumer [D-N.Y.] have chosen to politicize this issue,” McConnell said from the Senate floor on Monday.
At this point, you’re probably thinking that I’m about to write several hundred words about Mitch McConnell being the single most partisan human being who’s ever lived, making his admonitions yesterday appear hilariously insincere.
But I’m not going to do that. It’s tempting, but I have a different area of interest in mind.
Let’s say everyone involved in the process, recognizing the seriousness of the allegations against the president, wanted to avoid “politicizing” the issue. Let’s say McConnell’s concerns were legitimate – they’re not, of course, but let’s say they were for the sake of conversation – and officials committed to a de-politicized process.
In practical terms, what exactly would that look like?
At a certain level, the idea seems inherently self-defeating. We are, after all, talking about a politician – in this case, the sitting president – who’s accused of seeking a foreign government’s assistance in his re-election campaign. The controversy touches on a variety of fronts, related to everything from foreign policy to ethics to corruption laws, but at its core, it’s a political story.
And de-politicizing a political story gets a little tricky.
But if it’s nevertheless important to McConnell that the relevant players – including the politicians in Congress – try to avoid politicizing this mess, there are a limited number of options.
For example, lawmakers could launch an investigation, either through the traditional committee process, or through the creation of a select committee. Also, lawmakers could call on the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to launch a federal probe.
Do either of these options appeal to the Senate majority leader? Inquiring minds want to know.