In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, more than 40 progressive groups urged the House Democrats to initiate impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Bill Barr—not only to hold his accountable for numerous wrongdoings while in office, but also as a procedural tactic to keep the Senate from confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The groups, including United We Dream Action, the Center for Popular Democracy, and the Sunrise Movement, listed multiple offenses by the attorney general which would warrant impeachment proceedings, including:
- Misleading Congress regarding the Mueller investigation
- Supporting—and reportedly personally ordering—the use of federal troops against protestors in support of racial justice
- Prohibiting the referral of an intelligence community whistleblower complaint to Congress
- Failing to comply with subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives
Beyond holding Barr to account, as a team of legal experts also demanded the Democrats do in a report last week, beginning impeachment proceedings before this Friday, Oct. 23, would throw a wrench into Senate Republicans' plans to confirm Coney Barrett ahead of Election Day as well as their intent to use the court system to President Donald Trump's benefit.
"The administration's successful efforts to delay to 2021 court proceedings that would vindicate Congress's rights and to stack the courts with unqualified Trump judges—and Trump justices—means that the window for your actions to matter is rapidly closing," wrote the groups. "In a lawless administration whose only principle is helping the president's friends and hurting his enemies, and in the face of widespread efforts by the administration to prevent the peaceful transition of power, the final line of accountability lies with you."
The letter was drafted amid widespread frustration from progressives regarding the Senate Democrats' handling of Coney Barrett's confirmation hearings last week.
Democrats, particularly Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)—ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee—"lent legitimacy to an illegitimate process," according to Adam Jentleson, public affairs director for Democracy Forward.
Support for Barrett has risen eighteen points among *Democrats,* a clear sign that the hearings were a failure and a net gain for Barrett, McConnell and Republicans. Democrats signaled business as usual and lent legitimacy to an illegitimate process. https://t.co/aiRIs16yOZ
— Adam Jentleson (@AJentleson) October 21, 2020
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Jentleson on Wednesday blamed the Democrats for new Morning Consult poll results showing that support for the right-wing judge's confirmation has risen by 18 points among Democratic voters.
"The administration's successful efforts to delay to 2021 court proceedings that would vindicate Congress's rights and to stack the courts with unqualified Trump judges—and Trump justices—means that the window for your actions to matter is rapidly closing."
—40+ progressive groups
As the hearings adjourned last week, Feinstein praised committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) for his "leadership" during the proceedings. She also refused to join her more progressive colleagues in calling for the expansion of the Supreme Court and offered Coney Barrett a passive "nonsense line of questioning" regarding her views on Roe vs. Wade and other issues, according to Demand Justice executive director Brian Fallon.
Now that the hearings are over, the groups wrote Tuesday, House Democrats must use every procedural tool available to them to delay a vote on Coney Barrett.
If the Democrats initiate the impeachment process before Friday, the Senate will either be obligated to hold a trial or change the Senate rules to amend how the chamber responds to articles of impeachment, the groups explained.
"Either outcome is desirable," the groups wrote, explaining that if McConnell changes the rules, it "would lay the groundwork for future reform of Senate procedure and the rebalancing and depoliticization of the Federal Judiciary. The House of Representatives needs a Senate that is capable of acting on the legislation it reports, and only reform of how the Senate operates can make that possible."
"The best time for the House of Representatives to consider an impeachment of Attorney General Barr was months ago," the organizations continued. "The second-best time is right now. If you wait, it may be too late for the House, for the Senate, for the Supreme Court, and for our democracy. Time is running out."