'A Coverup' by 'Moscow Mitch': Jeffries Drops the Solemnity on Impeachment

Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Hakeem Jeffries / Getty Images
January 15, 2020

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D., N.Y.) once called impeachment a "solemn" event that should not be tainted by partisanship, but he quickly changed his tune as House Democrats ratified impeachment articles.

The Washington Post published an article Tuesday night that quotes Jeffries taunting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) with the nickname "Moscow Mitch." Jeffries, who was selected Wednesday to be one of the House impeachment managers, also accused McConnell of engaging in a "coverup" to help President Donald Trump.

Only weeks ago, however, Jeffries touted his party's serious and solemn approach to the inquiry into President Trump's handling of Ukrainian aid. On Dec. 3, Jeffries told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that Democrats would proceed urgently but soberly as "the moment requires."

"There is a clear sense of urgency as it relates to what we have to do," Jeffries said. "We'll continue to proceed in a serious, solemn, and sober fashion. That's what the moment requires, but it also requires us to act decisively so we can bring about some measure of presidential accountability."

The "Moscow Mitch" nickname has become popular in liberal circles to imply that the Kentucky senator is a stooge for Russia, a charge he has called "modern-day McCarthyism." It has contributed to broader conspiracy theories about Trump's "collusion" with Russia even after former special counsel Robert Mueller did not find evidence of such a relationship.

Jeffries frequently used the language of solemnity to describe Democrats' approach to impeaching Trump.

"We're going to proceed in a serious and solemn fashion," he said on MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes on Nov. 19.

On Hardball With Chris Matthews on Nov. 13, Jeffries said, "This is a serious moment, a solemn moment, and a somber moment for our country, and we're going to approach it in that regard."

House Democrats voted to impeach Trump on Dec. 18, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) opted to slow down the process in an attempt to pressure Sen. McConnell into calling additional witnesses. Jeffries and six other Democratic managers delivered the articles to the Senate on Wednesday.