Democrats Are Scurrying Away From The Fight For Democracy

Evidence of Trump's corruption mounts but both the White House and congressional Democrats are passing the buck.

I keep going back to Joe Biden’s words at Arlington National Cemetery: “Democracy itself is in peril, here at home and around the world.” I don’t think these words can be dismissed as partisan hyperbole. The reflect a genuine issue of paramount importance. But what can be questioned is whether Joe Biden or his party are up to the task of defending democracy.

Holding Donald Trump accountable for his transgressions as president is a key test and Democrats are failing it. Evidence is emerging that Trump used the Department of Justice (DOJ) to launch politically motivated investigation into journalists and Democratic lawmakers. The New York Times reports,

As the Justice Department investigated who was behind leaks of classified information early in the Trump administration, it took a highly unusual step: Prosecutors subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, aides and family members. One was a minor.

Adding to this story, NBC reports that the intelligence panel that was the target of DOJ investigation isn’t satisfied that they are being told the full story:

The panel has continued to seek additional information, but the Justice Department has not been forthcoming in a timely manner, including on questions such as whether the investigation was properly predicated and whether it only targeted Democrats, the committee official said.

Congressman Adam B. Schiff, one of the major targets of the DOJ investigation, expressed outrage: "I believe more answers are needed, which is why I believe the Inspector General should investigate this and other cases that suggest the weaponization of law enforcement by a corrupt president.”

Yet in calling on the Inspector General to clean house, Schiff himself is shrinking from the task at hand. If the DOJ isn’t being co-operative, then the responsibility for getting to the bottom of things falls on congress, which after all has oversight responsibility and subpoena powers. The Senate is unlikely to investigate since the 50-50 breakdown means Democrats would have to get Republican co-operation to issue subpoenas. But in the House, Democrats have a clear (if thin) majority. They could and should use subpoenas to document Trump’s corruption of the DOJ as a political weapon.

The Democrats are, dispiritingly, playing a buck passing game with Trump’s corruption. Biden is deferring to Garland, Garland is deferring to the tradition of letting acts by previous presidents go unpunished (not just on this matter, but others). Meanwhile congressional Democrats are asking for the Biden administration to fix this mess. No one is taking responsibility which means nothing will get done.

The democracy crisis is real but the party that claims to be fighting on behalf of democracy is too diffident and craven to get the job done. The American tragedy can be summed up in a sentence: the GOP is lawless, the Democrats are feckless.

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