How serious was Republican Congressman Mark Meadows about impeaching Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein? As serious as anyone who is purely putting together a stunt he can use in a fundraising ad on Breitbart. So serious, in fact, that the whole round of chest-thumping and clothes-rending appears to be over.
As reported in The Hill, Meadows is “tabling his efforts” after a brief chat with Republican leadership. It’s a meeting that likely involved a lot of eye-rolling and questions about what other PR stunts Meadows has planned.
In 2015, Meadows showed his tip-top-toughness by parking himself in then-House Speaker John Boehner’s chair and joining with skit-partner Jim Jordan in demands that the leadership be ousted. But this time around, with Paul Ryan having already inconveniently announced his retirement, Meadows needed a fresh target to prove his dander is still seriously up. So Meadows and Jordan selected Rosenstein as a convenient target for their attack—and handily, just the sort of target most likely to appeal to Trump supporters.
The impeachment proceedings are still officially in the works, and Jordan spent the morning in a spittle-flying assault on the FBI, DOJ, and Republican leadership. But with Meadows stepping out to give a verbal shrug to the press, the affair seems to be over except for giving the signers of the document a chance to make a speech they can use in their next commercial.
But just because the rest of the House is about as likely to vote to impeach Rosenstein at this point as Meadows is to vote to impeach Trump, that doesn’t mean the “Freedom Caucus” wrecking crew is done taking a monkey-wrench to the Mueller investigation. Both Meadows and Jordan are unlikely to step away from requesting hundreds of thousands of pages of classified material, and asking for it yesterday.
Meadows: I think it is our desire to have more of a contempt process, which obviously has to have a partner with the Speaker and I think hopefully they will at least acknowledge we’ve made some reasonable concessions to give DOJ and FBI.
According to Meadows, the DOJ and FBI will now get a good finger-wagging and “one last chance to comply” before he comes back with either impeachment or contempt charges.
Considering how Meadows began talking about contempt after speaking with Ryan and others, it seems likely that he has extracted some sort of deal that will see the House leadership at least allowing a vote on a motion of contempt in time for it to be included in everyone’s mailers. But it’s not at all certain that this agreement comes with the votes necessary to actually take actions against Rosenstein, FBI director Christopher Wray, or special counsel Robert Mueller.