The Dirty, Filthy, Disgusting I Word

To impeach, or not to impeach — that is the question.

I have been of the school of thought that we must investigate Trump with everything we’ve got, but that impeachment itself is futile as long as Republicans hold the majority in the Senate. But I’m changing my mind.

James Reston, Jr., recalls a Republican congressman, Rep. Lawrence Hogan of Maryland, who wrestled with the impeachment question back in 1974.

“This is an occasion when party loyalty demands too much,” the elder Hogan said. “To base this decision on politics would not only violate my conscience but it would be a breach of my oath to uphold the Constitution. Those who oppose impeachment say it would weaken the presidency. In my view, if we do not impeach this president after all he has done, we would be weakening the presidency even more.”

That’s where I’m coming out, although I’m more concerned with the Constitution than with the presidency. Yes, Republicans in Congress are even crazier and more partisan now than they were then. But Reston makes the point that Republicans in Congress,, who held a majority in the Senate then also, stood solidly behind Nixon in 1974 — until they didn’t.

What happened in Washington in the summer of 1974 is a template for what could and perhaps should happen in the summer of 2019. The behavior of Republicans back then holds important lessons for the current situation. Hogan and his like-minded colleagues did not step forward at the outset of the impeachment process, but only at the very end, when historic votes loomed, votes that would force upon them the most profound personal consideration about what they valued and what they stood for.

Yet today’s House leader, Nancy Pelosi, and her group are demanding that Republicans step forward now, at a preliminary stage in judging President Trump, as a condition of proceeding with impeachment. No formal process should even be initiated, she says, without significant Republican buy-in. This position is untenable. It forecloses the possibility, strange as it may seem to some, that there are decent and thoughtful Republicans who are deeply troubled by the revelations of the Mueller report, but who would come forward only when they were forced to do so because of a vote to decide the president’s fate.

Whether there are decent and thoughtful Republicans who would, in the end, put principle before party is not something I would bet the house on. However, I sincerely believe that if even what we know to be true about Trump really came to the attention of the public and is not buried behind William Barr’s double-speak, there would be a lot of Republicans who would look hard at their own political futures and rethink their position.

And what do we not know? We don’t know what’s in Trump’s tax returns. We don’t know what’s in his Deutsche Bank records. We don’t know how Mr. Multiple Bankruptcies came to be flush with cash in 2006 and was still getting funded by somebody after the 2008 financial crisis. We don’t know what went on with the inauguration money. We don’t know a lot of things. But these things are know-able. Well, if court orders and subpoenas can be enforced.

This happened yesterday:

Federal prosecutors rebuffed a judge’s order to release by Friday highly classified transcripts of discussions that Michael T. Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser, had with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition.

So what’s that about?

Impeachment is a process, and it’s a process with many steps. Voting on articles of impeachment comes at the end of the process. Pelosi speaks of it as if it’s the only part of the process. It’s true that congressional investigations don’t have to be called impeachment investigations, but there’s a widely held belief that doing so would give subpoenas and court orders more weight. Ignoring subpoenas related to an impeachment inquiry would be, seems to me, obstruction on its face and an impeachable offense in itself.

Of course, there’s  Alan Dershowitz, still on his sad journey from respected legal mind to punchline, embarrassing himself with an op ed claiming the Supreme Court could overrule an “unconstitutional” impeachment. He notes that all the other lawyers hoot at this idea, but cites a serious legal source — himself, in a book he wrote.

“This is all complete nonsense,” writes Paul Campos at Lawyers, Guns & Money. “It would warrant a failing grade if put forward in a first-year law student’s Con Law final.”

Voices claiming the impeachment process would backfire and turn into a debacle that will hurt the Democrats tend to be … conservative. For example, there’s David Frum (citing the Clinton impeachment as an example) and George Will (citing a bunch of irrelevant legal opinion that makes it sound as if he doesn’t believe Trump did anything that wrong). But now even Bill Kirstol says that it’s time for impeachment inquiries, which makes me wonder if the solar system is about to implode.

I believe we’ve reached a point that the entire Trump Administration is such a threat to the Constitution that there is no choice but to begin the impeachment process. Indeed, if the process can’t be used on this president, we might as well erase the procedure from the Constitution.


32 thoughts on “The Dirty, Filthy, Disgusting I Word

  1. "Ignoring subpoenas related to an impeachment inquiry would be, seems to me, obstruction on its face and an impeachable offense in itself"

    I don't think it matters if the democrats call it impeachment or not, Trump and his manservants will continue to stonewall. If he still obstructs what will Nadler do impeach twice? I'm with Pelosi on this one, stay the course with the investigations, calling it impeachment does nothing but energize the teatards and give trump another ace in his victim hood hand. As far as this being so bad if we don't impeach now when would we? I think GW Bush and Cheney were far worse, Trump flaunts the law but to date he hasn’t got half a million people killed. The guy stole an election and obstructed the investigation but to date the American Public shrugs its shoulders? The old model of having impeachment hearings sway public opinion don’t work anymore, trumpers have all the right-wing propaganda outlets they need to tell them the whole thing is a hoax. Without overwhelming public outrage and at least a few repug senators the whole impeachment process is a waste of time and in fact may help Trump steal a second term.


    • Quote:

      The longer the House waits, the more it sends the message that the conduct described in the Mueller report is not, in itself, enough to merit impeachment proceedings—and the more it weakens its own potential argument that such proceedings are a matter of moral and constitutional necessity, rather than the Trump camp’s refrain that they are a bare political calculation. After all, if the president’s obstructive acts, as set out in the Mueller report, were sufficiently dire as to demand an investigation into whether he had violated his constitutional obligations, surely the proper thing would have been to begin that investigation right away. And for that reason, delaying impeachment proceedings signals that the devastating material in the report is not really so devastating at all.

      The moral urgency of impeachment can only remain ripe for so long. To keep dithering is to move closer and closer to Gerald Ford’s infamous definition of an impeachable offense as “whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history,” instead of understanding impeachment as a constitutional check inflected by politics but chiefly to be used against unacceptable abuses of power. 

      • The moral urgency to do what, file articles of impeachment, some grand announcement by a party that has no power to convict? You seem to think that impeachment will somehow change the calculus? I think you’re wrong, impeachment will improve ccn and msnbc's rating for 2-3 weeks and then it will fade away. Once it fails which it certainly will, Trumps misdeeds will be fortified. The fact is Trump stole the election; the help he received from Russia and the GOP vote suppressors is why Hillary lost. Most liberals calling for impeachment can't even acknowledge that?

        • So, you're saying we should just go ahead and shred the Constitution and admit this little experiment in representative democracy was a failure. Okay.

          • No I'm saying the House of Representatives should do as the speaker says, right now she says stay the course with the various investigations. I happen to agree with Pelosi. Impeachment without public support is a waste of time, it will only help Trump (and political media ratings).

          • Nobody is saying to go straight to articles of impeachment. There will be investigations and hearings. Note that public opinion was even more opposed to impeaching Nixon, until there were hearings. And yes, the Senate very well might acquit, and then those jerks will have to face their constituents.

        • You know, it's interesting. The Republican are objectively, clearly, without any question, evil and stupid. And your response is "yeah, true, true, but they're so *good* at it, we should just give up":

          There's a word for that. There's a word for "let's be scared, so we don't have to do the right thing."

          The word is "cowardice".

          Now, I'm not calling you a coward.

          No… wait. Yes, that's exactly what I'm doing, coward.

  2. I tend to agree that to heck with Mueller report  and Russian meddling(i read it),there is a plethora of other things to investigate. Dtsr and dtjr both signed hush money checks. Sr is an unindicted  co-conspirator. 

    At the rate we are moving,  impeachment is almost a moot point. Even a judge can't get a transcript. McGahn  andMcDonald's notes are equivalent to tapes. 

    I don't give a rat's ass about offending a certain segment of the population by impeaching their King Con. The right has never given a rat's ass about  my feelings and has and is purposely screwing me and a majority as arrogantly as they can.


  3. I just don't trust enough of the elected establishment Dems to rightly judge things like tactical timing of when such proceedings begin. Despite the massive disinformation campaigns, it's already apparent that Team Trump itself keeps shooting itself in the foot despite the best efforts of McConnell, Fox News, et al. They can't win a long protracted investigation effort despite holding most of the aces.

    But the reality is that the investigations are underway, just without the official impeachment title. I believe that's a tactical mistake because it'll be the fresh revelations – things the public hasn't heard much about – that create the 'dt the Dems by listening to experts ateath by a thousand cuts' that starts swaying the public. And only the public can compel the Senate to stop playing protector.

    But while social media experts and troll farms have changed the dynamics some, let's not forget how crazy Team Nixon was, Instead of Barr, there was John Mitchell who kept his wife drugged and locked up to try and shut her up.

    Sure, Trump might beat the Dems with experts at PR but when has he ever relied on experts instead of his gut?

    The window for Pelosi to formally launch impeachment hearings will close if she doesn't pull it together by Labor Day imo. It'd grant the House much broader latitude in its access to documents if she gets it underway. 

  4. The difference between 1974 and now is that there were tapes.  Once people starting reading the transcripts of the tapes, or heard them on TV, no thinking human being could come to any conclusion except to impeach Nixon.  He ended up indicting himself through those tapes.  However, if the House held televised hearings using the Mueller report and charged Trump with all the obstructions of justice, I believe the majority of Americans will agree that impeachment is in order.  I think the House of Representatives needs to go down in history protecting and defending the U.S. Constitution.  Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

    • "However, if the House held televised hearings "

      Nadler can't get the culprits to show for hearings now, how is calling for impeachment going to change that? Television aint what it was in 1974, TeeVee journalism is dead. Any hearing is going to be spun however the right wants. Trump is going to run out the clock whether it's impeachment or not. Impeachment will fail, no doubt, and exactly how does that benefit anyone but Trump? The one thing worse than not impeaching is impeaching and failure, failure is certain.


      • Gee, uncledad. Sounds like you're interviewing for a gig as a Fox news commentator. 

         Let's just a fold and shrivel up in defeat because Trump's bombast and lies has overpowered 240 years of upholding the noblest idea ever instituted among governments…That no man is above the law. A government of the people, for the people, and by the people.

        I agree 100% with Bonnie's sentiment above..  Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! And I'll add a few of my own favorites…Putting your hands to the plow, don't look back. and It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!

         Impeach the lying bag of shit, because it's the right thing to do. Period. He's a divisive abomination and a blight on our nation…get rid of the shit, or let decency and democracy die trying.

        • " interviewing for a gig as a Fox news commentator.  "

          No not really, I'm on the same page as Pelosi, is she a FOX newser? Impeachment at this point is a waste of time for one thing most of the country opposes it (impeachment is not a legal proceeding it is a political process, not accounting for the political ramifications is foolish), so the house impeaches, then the senate acquits, then what?

      • Some legal experts argue that by formally making investigations part of an impeachment inquiry would strengthen the House's hand regarding document requests and subpoenas. The White House has been refusing to comply based on a claim that the House has “legitimate legislative purpose” for its requests. If it is clear the House's purpose is possible impeachment, that claim no longer holds water.

      • You know, you raise a *really* good point. Evil is so *strong*. It's so *evil*. And we should be so pants-pissingly scared! Because, really, it's far, far worse to be right, and lose, than to be wrong, and evil and despicable. So, really, let's all just wipe our butts with the Constitution, and bow down to our betters. At least, that's what the GOPpies want us to think.

        Good on you for getting with the program! Have you purchased your NRA lifetime membership with automatic yearly renewal? (That's a joke, son, lifetime membership shouldn't have to renew; I keep pitchin' 'em and you keep missin' 'em!)

  5. On what basis do we NOT Impeach with what we know now. Are we arguing that we have no principles -only politics. Open hearings and declare the mantle of honor. I wrote my congress-critter to say that and got a ty from chief of staff.

  6. It has been suggested that rather than use the word impeachment, it should be called a criminal investigation. I think it has more "theater" and therefore has a better possibility of turning more minds to not only watch the hearings but also allows for more people to grasp the severity of what he has done. They then could call friendly witnesses to testify to get the ball rolling, eventually building the case and support for impeachment along with it.


    • The problem is that if we call it a criminal investigation we are limited to criminal activities. The common law understanding of "high crimes and misdemeanors" includes misuses of office that are not necessarily in the criminal code.

      • I'd rather they use the term criminal investigation. As I said, it'll possess better theater to attract eyes and any crimes found and proven, before and after being in office, become enough reason to impeach.

        • Except a criminal investigation is an entirely different thing from an impeachment procedure. And while, in theory, Congress can investigate just about anything, if it conducts investigations that are not tied to its constitutional functions a court could put big limits on what it can do, whether its subpoenas can be enforced, etc. Calling it a criminal investigation is a seriously bad idea.

          • Perhaps it's just semantics. If they have impeachment hearings, they are essentially looking into what crimes have been committed. All they need to do is officially say they are having hearings and will be looking into Donald Trump's criminal activity that he has committed while in office. After all, obstruction of justice is a crime, is it not?

            In fact, in order to get "friendly" witnesses, they could start with some brokers. It's speculated that Trump contacted Icahn prior to announcing the steel tariffs. Was it coincidence that Icahn sold all stocks that would be affected by those tariffs? Could there be other people who were tipped off? Hannity maybe? Isn't that an insider trading issue? Perhaps another crime?

            Start out calling an impeachment hearing, but whenever the Dems get in front of a camera, just say something along the lines, "We have found further evidence of criminal activity…"

  7. Based on the facts, should Trump be impeached? Absolutely. However, that's probably the wrong question. Would the majority of voters see impeachment as a purely partisan exercise? Very likely. In their long game to replace the rule of law with the rule of wealth, Republicans further trashed the credibility of government by charging Bill Clinton with the high crime of perjury concerning a personal affair. Since then the public are more susceptible to wrong lessons through the even more profit-driven, propagandizing teevee news.

    Nancy Pelosi can't see the future better than anyone else, but she's an experienced political genius and should not be dismissed without a lot of serious consideration. The candidates can play to the Democratic base with "dirty, filthy" I-word talk, and plenty of Trump's criminal behavior can be exposed by other means.


    • Our current situation is much more like Nixon than Clinton, howeveer. If you aren't old enough to remember the Nixon impeachment hearings, I can only assure you they were nothing at all like the bare-assed partisanship that went on with Clinton. 

      • Somewhat regrettably, I'm old enough to remember the hearings. However, there were other conditions related to Vietnam, Spiro Agnew, Joe McCarthy and so on that helped put heat on Tricky Dick. And those hearings happened before Gingrich Speak, profit-driven media and propaganda outlets like Fox News. The political ecology is not the same, and forcing a president out of office is a different matter. Pelosi is wise to be cautious. For what it's worth, polls also show a lack of support for impeachment.

        By the way, I'm also skeptical of policy changes to allow a president to be indicted. How long do you think it would take for Republicans to misuse them?


  8. A quote from Thomas Jefferson:  "It can never be too repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united.  From the conclusion of this war we shall be going down hill.  It will not then be necessary to resort to the people every moment for support.  They will be forgotten, and their rights disregarded.  They will forget themselves, therefore, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights.  The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion."

  9. To some degree, I've come to see Nancy Pelosi's wisdom in holding back on impeachment.  Impeachment is a remedy offered by the Constitution, but this doesn't mean it has to be exercised.  Of course I'd love to live in the ideal world where justice is swift, and of course Trump and his cabal are far and away the most deserving of the swift hand of justice.  But that's not the world we live in.

    You have to balance this against political reality.  If the goal is to get rid of Trump, it's unlikely that formally removing Trump by conviction in the Senate is going to happen.  It's unlikely enough Republicans can be peeled off to get the needed 2/3 conviction threshold, no matter how damning the evidence.  If Fox News didn't exist, we'd have a chance at this.

    On the other hand, trying to get rid of Trump by demonstrating to the public that we're the party of ideas, and winning at the ballot box isn't likely either.  Trump and the Republicans will do everything possible to get another term.  The Democrats don't help themselves by having a very crowded field of candidates, led by the well-past expiration date Joe Biden, or even Bernie Sanders (who I love but is just too old).  It will take a long time to sort through the candidates, and the odds of a Trump-slayer emerging from this aren't great.  While we have an embarassingly large number of presidential candidates to choose from, we have all but abandoned the Senate.  How's that going to work?

    I think the best strategy is a middle one.  Keep the pressure on Trump with investigations and court fights.  If formally opening an impeachment trial helps expedite this, then do so, even though conviction in the Senate is a long shot, and isn't a practical goal.  The immediate goal should be to damage Trump as much as possible going into the election.

    You mentioned something upstream, worrying about having to concede that "this experiment in democracy is a failure".  IT IS A FAILURE.  Get used to that.  The system has been gamed in ways the founders of this country could not foresee.  They could not foresee legions of dumb people, who can vote, propagandized by the right.  The founders expected corrupt politicians, but not corrupt parties, which is what we're struggling with today.  The structural flaws of the electoral college or the design of the Senate were not fully appreciated 200 years ago, back when people lived in small towns and on farms. IT IS OVER.  The best that can be done today is to slow the damage, which has been accelerating over the last twenty or more years.  That's why it's important to be practical and not get caught up in purity, in a hopelessly impure system.  When the ship is sinking, you don't care that it has a bad navigation system, you only care about keeping it afloat as long as possible, so you can make it to the lifeboats.

    • The most basic goal isn’t just getting rid of Trump but making it clear that we still have a Constitution and even presidents are subject to it. It’s making clear at least some of us will not accept what is unacceptable.

      • Not likely to happen. Very unlikely there will be enough Republicans to convict. It's not a very realistic goal. 

        Merely getting rid of Trump – by whatever means – will be difficult enough, without the extra added bonus of saving the Constitution, which a certain political party has absolutely no interest in. And which has effectively been shredded for years.

  10. I have a very high regard for Nancy Pelosi; however, I do think she is wrong on not impeaching.  She is, after all, a human being and can make mistakes.  I think this is a big mistake on her part.  Why does every one say wait, wait, wait?  My dad always said "weight's what broke the bridge."  Congress is supposed to protect and defend the Constitution.  Those who do not are derelict in their duty and should be replaced.

  11. Saying that people who oppose impeachment are conservatives is an ad hominem, not an argument. I've been a socialist since before some of the people in this conversation were born.

    I was around for Nixon's impeachment. Back then there was no internet and Fox would have been illegal, because the Fairness Doctrine was still in place.

    It was also a time when Democrats still protected working people and voters still trusted them. Republicans were a minority party dominated by moderates and always had been.

    Fast forward to the world as it is now.

    We literally can not impeach Trump because the Senate will not allow it, so all we can hope for is more ramped-up media outrage over his awful ways. That did not win the election for Hillary and has not dented Trump's popularity with his core supporters since he took office.

    I think an impeachment show will hurt our side because it will jack up the number of people who don't vote at all. Public leaders who yell at each other instead of  addressing issues that really matter to the majority of us is exactly what frustrated voters are rejecting.

    Like Bernie says, it's not about [them], it's about us.Voters who could switch from Obama to Trump and now back to the Democrats are wide open to change, desperate for it even. For anybody who wants to do what's right because it's right the best use of our time is to get busy building our base.

    Stacey Abrams almost built the support she needed to win in Georgia. It wasn't quite enough, but it was oh so very close, and nobody even imagined getting that far was possible until she did it. If we keep up the outreach the next election will be a win for what's right.

    We need for this to be happening everywhere.




  12. Yet today’s House leader, Nancy Pelosi, and her group are demanding that Republicans step forward now, at a preliminary stage in judging President Trump, as a condition of proceeding with impeachment.”

    I can see the problem with this from the GOP perspective.  Let’s say there are republicans in the senate who have a problem with Trump and what he’s done.  Reports are that privately many have expressed this.  What Pelosi is asking them to do is essentially sign on to impeachment ahead of the process.  This (and more) is expressed in these comments from Sen. Kennedy:

    “’You know, if you want to do it, go to Amazon online, buy spine, and do it,’ Kennedy said. ‘But go hard or go home. If you’re not going to do it, then let us get back to work.’”

    He is right; go hard or go home.  Stop being mealy-mouthed wimps looking for cover before acting, especially on doing your Constitutional duty. 

    There are those who peer into their crystal balls and predict what will happen in the senate.  Impeach, put the evidence on the table where all can see it, and if it is overwhelming, as it appears to be in what Mueller has dug up, then impeach and let the republican senate take responsibility for letting Trump off the hook.  Let them all run in 2020 on that.


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