Impeachment is serious business. It is not a short term tactical weapon to ensure a process goes more smoothly: in this case that the DOJ complies with House requests to turn over additional documents relating to the FBI and Mueller probes of any possible Trump campaign team collusion with Russia.

So, there’s a divide amongst House Republicans on this issue, and it’s happening in the shadow of the race to succeed Paul Ryan as House Speaker. Jim Jordan has just announced that he’s running and was part of the eleven GOP Members of Congress who tabled the proposal. McCarthy is against the idea. Here’s Steve Scalise – a likely candidate for Speaker – commenting on his support for the House GOP members who have proposed impeaching Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein over DOJ slow-walking of House requests for documents:

It’s more about leverage to let the Justice Department know we’re serious about getting the final information they haven’t sent us. This is another tool to get Justice to comply with our subpoenas and our demands for documents that the American people deserve to get. They need to start complying. Obviously they have given us a number of things but they’ve still held back some of the documents we need to get as part of our oversight.

No Steve, you don’t use impeachment to gain leverage in a process pitting Congress against the Executive in a matter dealing with how swiftly the Department of Justice hands over what you ask for. Yes, the DOJ is clearly delaying – perhaps waiting for a hoped-for Democratic majority in the lower chamber – and doing so for reasons that likely have more to do with covering their tracks rather than national security concerns. That’s troubling. That’s damn annoying. That’s stonewalling. That’s not high crimes and misdemeanors.

Apparently, Mark Meadows was told the same thing by outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan, and Meadows has apparently backed off (it was Freedom Caucus members behind this impeachment proposal), just a little. Here’s Meadows on Thursday afternoon:

I hope we can avoid impeachment and hopefully avoid contempt and get the documents, but certainly both those things are on the table and remain on the table to have more of a contempt process. Both options remain there.

That’s hardly putting your pistol back in the holster, but at least he’s laid his gun down on the table for now. But the threat remains clear.

When you use impeachment for this level of confrontation, it demeans the option and makes it that much more likely that Democrats will be even more eager to use impeachment wherever and whenever they think they can gain any sort of advantage. And that means impeachment so abused will become equivalent to … sorry but it’s hard to resist … saying “You’re fired!”

And precisely because the man who re-built his troubled empire on that phrase is in danger of having a Democrat controlled Congress launch impeachment proceedings based on a flawed and partisan investigation is why Scalise, Jordan, and Meadows should resist threatening it.

But they clearly think that the deadly serious slugfest with Democrats means you grab any bottle handy, break it off to ensure it’s sharp and jagged, and start swinging wildly hoping to slash into any nearby flesh. Like the other side of the aisle.

Unfortunately, the President will likely approve these tactics, even as his own future is unnecessarily threatened by the possibility of an absurd impeachment process that the opposition party is itching to unleash on him. And perhaps so does his base.

So, while Ryan has damped down the impeach-Rosenstein talk, it’s hardly been vanquished. And might even get put into action. Just what we need.

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