Rep. Panetta Defends His Protection of Trump on Impeachment in Meeting With SCI

Editors note:
On Aug. 13th, 2019 Nancy Guinther of Aptos led a team of SCI activists in meeting with Rep. Panetta concerning opening an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, based on the allegations of obstruction of justice in the Mueller report. Below is Nancy's account, including editor's notes, links, and added emphasis.

I was surprised and excited to receive an invitation to meet personally with Rep Panetta during his August recess. I’d been calling his offices often, recently to urge him to support publicly an impeachment inquiry.  Aides I had spoken to didn’t always seem clear about Panetta’s stand, so I took a page out of the Indivisible playbook and insisted he tell me in person.  I give his team credit for setting up the meeting so quickly.

Five of us met with him (one was a very articulate 12 yo who came to ask about his stand on gun control); we told him we were supported by SCI, Moveon.org and Stand Up America.  Jimmy listened to us as we urged him to back impeachment and asked his reasons for following the Pelosi playbook. “It’s all about politics,” he kept repeating, strongly, but calmly. Calmly, that is, until we challenged him. Then, he dropped his political guard, put on his former Fed. Prosecutor hat, and questioned us as if we were on the stand in a court case he was determined to win, more aggressively that I expected.

“Investigate first,” he demanded, ”then we’ll move to impeach if the evidence is there.” Editor's note:  This is deflection.  We are asking for support of an official impeachment inquiry, not  a vote on impeachment.  We didn’t have an opportunity to ask about the mounting evidence in the Mueller report.  He shifted to other topics as we questioned his stand, reading to us a list of all the bills he and the House Dems have passed:  three pages of text to show us he’s working hard on other issues.

Looking back on the meeting, I can say I was disappointed in his reactions. I’m not certain he speaks for his constituents, as much as he speaks for the Dem caucus that follows Pelosi.  I think pressure from more of his constituents--who believe as we do, that an impeachment inquiry is a process, that Dems are not afraid to stand up to a President who has broken the law and continues to--is the right thing to do moving forward.

Final editor's note: 133 House Democrats, a clear majority, now support opening an impeachment inquiry. That includes 17 of 24 members of the House Judiciary committee.  I think that it's an embarrassment that the representative of such a blue district won't show more leadership on this issue.

Update from Panetta Town Hall in Watsonville

Some of our SCI members were able to attend the Panetta town hall on Wednesday August 21, 2019.

A week after her (Nancy Guinther's) meeting, I attended Panetta’s town hall in Watsonville.  Four of us in the audience, one being a member of the E-board of the Santa Cruz Democratic Party,  presented the same questions about his lack of support for an impeachment INQUIRY.   We heard the same reasoning, then experienced the same distractions—equating inquiry with a full on Impeachment vote, and the  parroting of  Pelosi’s call for more evidence and more public support. 
 
Notable is his eventual reaction in both meetings:  he became uncharacteristically  irritated and “aggressive” in his answers regarding impeachment.
 
He wanted to talk about all the great bills that the house has passed, many of which he introduced or co-signed.
 
So far so good, however all the bills now sit stagnant in the Senate.  Jimmy and the Dems are bragging about their work, but in the end, the work was wasted; it produced no results, except for being able to blame the Senate and Trump. 
 
 As with  being a prosecutor or serving in Afghanistan, both which he rightfully touts, failure  is not an option.  
 
If he wants to move beyond serving our very safe district he needs to be a leader, not a follower;  a remover of obstacles not maker of excuses.   
 
Submitted by Ken Reichman, SCI member