Not Impeaching May Be the Bigger Risk

I’m pleased to note that Digby also thinks the Dems should go ahead and officially start the impeachment process.

…the Democratic party should probably pay a little bit more attention to their own base on this. 76% of Democrats favor impeachment! And a whole bunch of college-educated white people, many of whom used to vote Republican, are also on board. This is not a static opinion.

I don’t know if the leadership has some grand plan to wait for support to rise before they impeach. But Pelosi insists that she wants to know in advance that the Senate would convict, which means she doesn’t care if 100% of Democrats and Independents back impeachment, Republicans must be there too. Maybe she’ll change her mind. I hope so.

But what if the Senate doesn’t convict?

I don’t know if Pelosi and company have a grand plan. But if they believe what they are saying, which is that you can’t impeach Trump because Republicans won’t convict him, then I think they are playing with fire.

Trump may survive impeachment through the partisan solidarity of Republican Senators who are happy to show themselves to be shameless toadies to their 40% president. He will say he “”won.” But if they fail to impeach him in the House, he will run by saying that it was Democrats who exonerated him. After all, if they really thought he was guilty they would have done it, right?

Trump will run as the strongman who all alone defeated the Democratic House with his gigantic bare hands.

I don’t think this is a decision that should be made on political terms. But if it is, it seems to me that the Democrats have the political argument all wrong. They actually have a better chance of winning in the long run by forcing the Republican Senate toadies to save him.

Public hearings that bring out all the dirt that isn’t being reported on Fox News will damage Trump, and with him any Republican who tries to cover for him, enormously with independent voters. Not holding public impeachment hearings or making any attempt to impeach Trump will hurt the Dems among independent voters and leftie voters who think the Democratic Party is a spineless waste of time and there’s no point voting for those people.

Bottom line, there’s a good argument that not iimpeaching Trump is a bigger risk than going ahead with it, Senate conviction or no Senate conviction.

See Greg Sargent on what we can learn from polling on impeaching Nixon in 1973 and 1974:

Right now, independents are a key reason public support for impeachment is low. A recent Post-ABC News poll, which found that only 37 percent of Americans support beginning impeachment proceedings while 56 percent oppose it, also found that among independents, those numbers are 36 percent to 59 percent.

The Gallup numbers on Nixon suggest that big shifts among independents are possible and show that a substantially larger percentage of independents now support impeachment hearings than at the outset in Nixon’s day.

In other words, it might be possible to build majority support for an impeachment inquiry on Trump, even if Republican voters don’t ever move much on this question.

See also:

The House Is Right to Move Toward an Impeachment Inquiry by Quinta Jurecic at Lawfare.

Yet, there stands Nancy like a stone wall. At CNN, Ross Garber writes,

As an impeachment defense lawyer, I often warn about the perils of initiating impeachment proceedings. I emphasize that they should be undertaken only where there is credible information of egregious misconduct that would affect an official’s ability to continue in office, and in full recognition of the incredibly high standard for impeachment, the rigorous process involved, the inevitable disruption in governing and the potential political costs.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has set a bar for an impeachment process that even I haven’t dared advocate. And while she may believe an impeachment process would hurt Democrats in 2020, she has sought to justify her aversion to impeachment with statements that are unsupportable and erroneous. This undermines the public’s trust and could have consequences for future impeachment efforts.

For example, apparently Pelosi as argued that if Trump is aquitted by the Senate, criminal charges couldn’t be brought against Trump when he’s out of office. But that’s bogus, Garber says. Nancy also says that impeachment would “divide the country.” Uh, hello? We’re already divided Impeachment might bleeping bring us together.

I very much doubt that any evidence brought against Trump in an impeachment hearing would budge enough Republican senators to convict the Creature. But if the case has been made to the public, these same senators will pay a bigger price than the Democrats.

Back to Ross Garber:

The whole point of an impeachment process is to conduct a fair evaluation of the facts and constitutional standard. Initiating an impeachment process also provides a forum for the public to learn about the relevant facts and the constitutional burdens….

…Partisanship is to be expected, especially at the outset; it is the default posture in Washington. But let’s take a look at some history. The impeachment process involving President Nixon began as a largely partisan effort, but eventually members of the President’s own party came around, resulting in his resignation. Here too, Speaker Pelosi is wrong to suggest that uniform opinion be required about the result before even initiating an evaluation of the facts through the impeachment process.

The purpose of this piece is not to advocate for impeachment. It is to urge that the topic be approached responsibly. And it’s not just about Donald Trump. Someday a different House leadership will confront potential misconduct by a different president and will look for guidance to the words and actions of this speaker and this House of Representatives.

This is about protecting the integrity of the Constitution. If impeachment isn’t used against this walking cesspool of a president, when will it be used? That makes the Constitution even weaker.

Sometimes, you just have to do the right thing.

(Photo: Pat Bagley/The Salt Lake Tribune/