This article appeared online at on Thursday, May 2, 2019: 

Results released by two pollsters confirm what reported on Monday: Most voters don’t want the House to start impeachment hearings, especially the independents. On Monday TNA reported that, based on polling results from Rasmussen Reports and Post/ABC News, “barely a third of registered voters or likely voters favor trying to impeach the president … while nearly 60 percent think it would be both a waste of time and politically dangerous.”

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported the results from PBS NewsHour//Marist and CNN/SRRS polls. They were nearly identical in their findings: In the first, 51 percent of independents said no to attempts to impeach the president, while in the second, 66 percent of independents rejected any move to impeach the president.

As Karl Rove, political advisor and campaign director for President ’s successful runs for the White House, noted, “Independents increasingly agree with Republicans on the question — and these are the swing voters likely to decide the White House in 2020.”

Seeing the impeachment “dead end,” strategists are adopting what they call their “Benghazi” strategy: endless hearings. Republicans used that strategy in an attempt to expose while she was serving as Secretary of State during the 2012 terrorist attack in Libya. As Julian Epstein, a former White House staff member during those hearings, noted, “There is a big sentiment amongst some [Democrats] that they should ‘Benghazi’ Trump.” He said such hearings, held often enough and loudly enough, would serve at least two purposes: creating a political weapon to weaken the president going into 2020, and satisfying a party base that is frustrated that the House hasn’t moved to impeach the president.

Darren Samuelsohn wrote in Politico that such a strategy “gives Democrats a chance to navigate around the thorny impeachment question while still showcasing their majority [in the House] and flexing their investigative chops.” Plus, as a bonus, noted Samuelsohn, “They might even uncover some wrongdoing along the way.”

Jason Sattler, an opinion columnist for USA Today, thinks the Democrats are leaving the impeachment question far too early in favor of hearings, hearings, and more hearings: “If Democrats make the political calculation to let an arguably felonious president get away with never having to answer to high crimes and misdemeanors, he and perhaps future presidents will be unleashed to do even worse.”

Regardless, the Democrats in charge of various investigative committees are relishing the opportunity to appear on television during their investigations, even if they find nothing. As Rove put it:

House committee chairmen won’t stop trying to oust Mr. Trump. Reps. Jerry Nadler (Judiciary), Adam Schiff (Intelligence), Elijah Cummings (Oversight) and Maxine Waters (Financial Services) will keep issuing demands and subpoenas. The country will have to put up with endless hearings built around five minutes of questions of varying quality by mostly forgettable members of Congress, punctuated by a few moments of drama.

This leaves the 20 or so Democratic contenders for their party’s nomination for the presidency in a quandary: If they endorse impeachment (thus satisfying the lust of their party’s base for revenge), they alienate the independent voters they need to keep Trump from being reelected in 2020. So far most of them haven’t taken a position.

The Democrats are running out of options. With the Mueller report rapidly becoming ancient history to the average voter, and impeachment off the table, they are left with hearings. Soon those hearings will become just white noise to the very voters the Democrats need to be successful in 2020.

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