Georgia

When celebrity luster gives cover to how America judges its own
Jessye Norman and Diahann Carroll remind us of the unfair burden placed on icons of color

People who hold up the late Jessye Norman, left, or Diahann Carroll as exemplifying America’s promise, that hard work will inevitably lead to reward, ignore the women’s own struggles , Curtis writes. (Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images file photos)

OPINION — I am not one of those folks who see celebrities as larger-than-life icons to be worshipped and admired. Usually. But the recent deaths of Jessye Norman and Diahann Carroll hit me in the gut because those two amazing women were at once larger than life and so very real. The reactions to their accomplishments also illustrate an American or perhaps universal trait — the ability to compartmentalize, to place certain citizens of color or underrepresented citizens on a pedestal, at once a part of and apart from others of their race or gender or religion or orientation.

It allows negative judgment of entire groups to exist alongside denials of any racist or discriminatory intent. There are a lot of problems with that way of thinking. It places an unfair burden on the icons, a need to be less a human being than a flawless symbol. And it uses them as a rebuke to others who never managed to overcome society’s obstacles.

Democrats face consequences of skipping floor impeachment vote
House Democrats gave themselves political wiggle room, but the strategy also leaves open questions about the inquiry’s legitimacy

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., announced last month the House has begun an impeachment inquiry. Her opponents argue that is not enough to start one. The resolution of that dispute has implications for how and when Congress might get access to related documents and testimony. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats gave themselves political wiggle room when they launched their impeachment inquiry without holding a floor vote, but that procedural strategy also left room for the White House and a federal judge to question the legitimacy of the push.

The White House, in a letter Tuesday criticized as advancing a legally flimsy argument, told the House it would not participate in an impeachment inquiry that hasn’t been authorized by the full House — which they argue means it isn’t “a valid impeachment proceeding.”

Judge questions keeping Mueller grand jury materials from House
During the hearing the judge voiced skepticism about the Justice Department’s reasons for opposing the release of materials

Former special counsel Robert Mueller and Aaron Zebley, far right, deputy prosecutor, arrive to testify before the House Intelligence Committee hearing on their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election in Rayburn Building on July 24, 2019. A judge appeared ready Tuesday to give the House Judiciary Committee access to at least some secret grand jury materials from Mueller’s investigation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A federal judge in Washington on Tuesday appeared ready to give the House Judiciary Committee access to at least some of the secret grand jury materials from the Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, throughout a two-hour hearing, voiced skepticism about the Justice Department’s reasons for opposing the release of materials to the committee as part of an impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump.

The women trying to impeach Trump — and the men making it so damn hard
From Lindsey Boylan to Nancy Pelosi, women are proving to be the president’s most formidable obstacles

New York Democrat Lindsey Boylan, left, with her spirited primary challenge likely pushed House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler into publicly supporting an impeachment inquiry, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced last month, Murphy writes. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Women's Forum of New York, Tom Williams/CQ RollCall)

OPINION — Not all heroes wear capes, but lots of them wear high heels. If you’re a Democrat watching the impeachment saga unfolding in Washington right now, nearly all of your superheroes are wearing heels today. That’s because when you look carefully at the pressure points in the widening impeachment inquiry against the president so far, women have been at the center of nearly all of them.

First, there was Lindsey Boylan, 35, a mom and former public housing advocate in New York City. Her name is probably unfamiliar to people outside New York, but Boylan is challenging Rep. Jerry Nadler in a Democratic primary next June. Not only has she absolutely hammered Nadler for what she says has been his failure to produce results for their district, she’s been relentless in calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment since February and criticizing Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee responsible for drafting articles of impeachment, for not doing more sooner to remove him from office.

Staff security clearances may vex House Intelligence members
Rank-and-file members likely have no aides to consult on the most sensitive information in impeachment probe

House Intelligence member Jackie Speier has called for panel members to have one personal staffer with TS/SCI clearance. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rank-and-file members of the House Intelligence Committee, who are at the nucleus of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, likely have no personal aides to consult on the most sensitive information handled in the high-stakes probe.

The two Californians who lead the panel, Chairman Adam B. Schiff and ranking Republican Devin Nunes, have staff with Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information Security Clearance, also known as TS/SCI clearance. But other lawmakers on the committee traditionally have not had personal staff with such a clearance.

Welcome to her wheelhouse — Trump’s living in Pelosi’s world now
President is no longer the one calling the shots

Institutionalists like Nancy Pelosi embrace the workings of the oversight process like a warm hug and deploy them like a Tomahawk missile, Murphy writes. (Doug Mills/The New York Times pool photo)

OPINION — Nancy Pelosi said it not once, not twice, but three times last week. “Mr. President, you have come into my wheelhouse.”

In other words, welcome to her world. After nearly two years of Congress leaning, bending and nearly breaking in response to the president's wrecking ball through it, the explosive whistle blower complaint against him has now put the president squarely in Pelosi’s territory of unavoidable congressional oversight.

With impeachment churning, Modernization panel urges civility
Ex-Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood suggests leaders plan bipartisan retreat and weekly dinners

Modernization committee leaders Derek Kilmer, right, and Tom Graves say their panel “has set a new standard for collaboration on Capitol Hill.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As impeachment and partisan politics rage on Capitol Hill, one congressional panel spent Thursday morning brainstorming ways to promote civility and collaboration among lawmakers.

The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress almost seemed like it inhabited an alternate Congress from the one where, at the same time, Speaker Nancy Pelosi outlined plans for an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump and the House Intelligence Committee probed a whistleblower complaint central to that effort.

Why some Democrats aren’t calling for an impeachment probe
Districts help explain reasoning by a dozen vulnerable Democrats

New York Rep. Anthony Brindisi has not backed an impeachment inquiry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A cascade of Democrats facing competitive races backed an impeachment inquiry this week, which likely spurred Speaker Nancy Pelosi to drop her objections to using that word to describe ongoing probes.

Some vulnerable incumbents are not using the “I” word, however, and the Republican-leaning districts they represent help explain why.

Long arc of history guides John Lewis in his call for impeachment inquiry
A man who’s been beaten, bullied and jailed would know a thing or two about justice

Rep. John Lewis, left, here with, from right, Reps. John Yarmuth, Conor Lamb and Anthony G. Brown, announced his support for an impeachment inquiry Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — No one can accuse Rep. John Lewis of lacking patience. The Georgia Democrat showed plenty, as well as steely resolve, as he changed millions of minds — and history — over a life spent working for equal rights for all. So when he speaks, especially about justice, a cause from which he has never wavered, all would do well to listen.

Lewis was not the only voice raised this week, as all sides raced to place a political frame on the narrative of the undisputed fact that a U.S. president asked a foreign leader to work with him and for him to smear a political opponent, perhaps with military aid in the balance. “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it,” President Donald Trump said, according to a transcript of the conversation based on notes. He also wanted to rope in his personal lawyer and the attorney general, who, by the way, works for the American people, not Trump.

This is not your father’s impeachment
Political Theater, Episode 94

Luke Skywalker, played in the “Star Wars” saga by Mark Hamill, seen here, might as well have been talking about political conventional wisdom about impeachment when he counseled Rey in “The Last Jedi” that things don’t always go as planned. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images file photo)

The conventional wisdom is that impeaching President Donald Trump could imperil Democrats in 2020. But beware the conventional wisdom, and relying on dated data and small sample sets, like the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

“Make no mistake about it: Backing impeachment will cost the Democrats their majority in 2020,” Rep. Tom Emmer, the head of the House Republicans’s campaign arm, thundered after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the start of a formal impeachment inquiry Tuesday. Every Republican from the president on down has echoed this sentiment.