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/

25 thoughts on “Not Impeaching May Be the Bigger Risk

  1. I'll tell you what, the day the Democrats can get the person who would be their star witness for impeachment hearings (Bob Mueller) to state on the record, on camera unequivocally without double speak that yes trump committed obstruction of Justice, then on that day I will be for beginning impeachment inquiry leading to full-on impeachment proceedings. Until that day I am against it, and by the way so is the majority of the country.

    • "Until that day I am against it, and by the way so is the majority of the country."

      Please don't comment on this topic again until you've read this. Thanks much.. 

      • The tired old Nixon comparison again? Maha its not 1973 things have changed, quite a bit. It really says something that I am taking the same position as the Speaker of the house, a liberal democrat from San Francisco, yet you seem to think my position is pro-trump? I'm for impeaching the guy, but not until the groundwork has been laid. Going into impeachment half cocked because the liberal chattering class is demanding is a fools errand. Oh and I read that story, again it's not 1973.

  2. The debate as to whether or not to impeach for lack of public support reminds me of  an old moral tale.

     There once was an old farmer who taking his goods to market in a mule drawn cart. At a point in the journey to the market the mule decided to just stop and sit down. The mule refused to budge, or listen to the commands of the farmer.

    After about an hour of trying to coax the mule to get moving a merchant traveling in the opposite direction stopped to offer an assist in resolving the farmer's dilemma of getting the mule to move. After hearing the farmer's story of how the mule wouldn't respond his directions, the merchant walked to the side of the road and picked up a big stick. He then walked over to the mule an smacked him on the head. The Farmer cried out, what did you do for? The merchant calmly replied, saying that the first step in getting a jackass to listen is that you have to get their attention.

    I kind think that launching an impeachment inquiry( and called as such) will alert the general public of the seriousness of Trump criminality and put the GOP on notice that the game playing has ended. The battle shifted from politics to principal.

     Let the GOP Senator deal with their constituents and explain why they find Trump's lawlessness acceptable.

    • Oh, That's principle not principal.. My misuse of spelling the correct word is almost as bad the Trump's. Bag of shit that he is!

  3. Impeaching might also be the bigger risk. Among House Democrats the loudest calls for impeachment are from those in safe districts. Those from moderate districts are unsurprisingly more cautious. And impeachment is not a top issue for most voters. Those are health care, the economy, the environment, education, foreign policy, and immigration:

    Gallup found similar results in October of last year. Democrats fail to emphasize those issues at their peril.

    Comparisons to Nixon are spurious. Impeachment is a political process which would now be conducted in a political environment very unlike the 1970s'. In that decade most people got their information from the newsrooms of ABC, NBC or CBS which were all run at a loss to minimize the influence of sponsors. CBS's Walter Cronkite was voted "The Most Trusted Man in America" for years and led in the ratings. There is no such equivalent now. It's doubtful a majority watching coverage of impeachment hearings would see the same clips or hear the same commentary.

    At some point the Democrats might decide to pull the trigger. But if they take a shot they'd better have a good chance of making it worthwhile.


    • "Impeachment is a political process which would now be conducted in a political environment very unlike the 1970s'." That is true, and I'd be the first to say that this may prove to be insurmountable. Odds are that Trump won't be convicted by the Senate. But I don't think we know how events will play out. And, again, we're not going to change the minds of hard-core right wingers, but we don't need to. We need to move the needle with independents. And Democrats in Congress need to reassure Democratic voters that they really do have spines and princples. 

      • I agree with most of your points, but aren't you even a little worried that voters would see impeachment hearings as grandstanding and resent the lack of attention to their problems? Trying to make Trump the issue didn't work well enough for HRC.


        • Last I checked the democrats have 235 members in the House.  Not sure how many standing committees they have, but impeachment does not require EVERY committee and EVERY House member to be consumed 100% with the impeachment process.  And as a manager, the Speaker is charged with managing House business, all of it.  

          This is another way of saying, yes, the democrats have the resources and the management to chew gum and walk at the same time. 

          With all due respect, the argument that if the democrats engage in impeachment then nothing else can be done, is spurious, at best.  The voters want their needs addressed but they also indicated a desire to have Trump held accountable.  The democrats need to put their big boy pants on and do all of the people's business.  

          I would ask this question: the democrats are currently resisting impeachment with all of their DNC power.  So where are the announcements on infrastructure?  Where are the health care bills?  Pelosi has mentioned some things but why aren't they communicating the various bills and legislation so that the public KNOWS they are doing it?

          • House Democrats have been busy:


            I've seen a few of these bills mentioned on CNN and MSNBC but, unlike most people, get news from the web and only watch TV for entertainment. Legislation probably isn't mentioned with anywhere near the frequency of the horse race, which drives more ad revenue.

            There's no question Republicans will spin a lot of whiny noise about any impeachment moves and that it will be more exciting and more covered than news about legislation, especially on right wing outlets. Democratic leadership seems to be taking that into account.


        • The Democrats would have to make a clear case of the serious threat Trump poses to our constitutional republic. This would be nothing like the Nixon Clinton impeachment, which obviously WAS grandstanding.

          • You're completely right about the Dems needing to build a case. That's probably what they're doing.

            I don't completely agree about the Nixon impeachment. There was some grandstanding, but the burglary and cover up were serious business, and the TV outlets were more civically responsible in those days.


          • “I don’t completely agree about the Nixon impeachment.” I don’t agree with me, either. I meant to write CLINTON impeachment. That was grandstanding; Nixon’s was not.

  4. The real scary thought is, what if there are not enough democrat votes in the house to even pass impeachment.

  5. "Right now, independents are a key reason public support for impeachment is low."

    Huh? Pew just did a study that Independents are only 2.3% of voters!

    Who  cares about those numbers?

    • Chris — you are confused. According to Pew, people who self-identify as independent make up 38 percent of U.S. adults. Where do you see 2.3 percent of voters? The independents are a larger group than either Republicans (26 percent) or Democrats (31 percent). It’s true that most independents lean to one party or another, with about 7 percent genunely nonpartisan. but I can’t imagine where you saw 2.3 percent.


        Of your number, only 7% are true independents (they don't actually lean either way). Of that 7%, only 33% voted in 2018. That comes to 2.3%.

        Anecdotally, most people I run into who claim to be "Independent" do indeed vote consistently for one particular party. One reason I surmise, through the conversation, is because they are either too embarrassed to admit their political affiliation or don't want to be pigeon-holed.



        • Chris, yes, you are repeating what I said already. Note that the 7 percent are famous for being utterly disinterested in politics. They are not paying attention to current events and mostly don’t vote. They are not a factor. The independent voters, the leaners, are significant for our purposes because, currently, only about 35 percent support impeachment. But a large percentage — more than half — of the “leaners” are left-leaning and certainly are persuadable on the impeachment issue. Democrats and left-leaning independents put together are a bigger chunk of the electorate than Republicans and right-leaning voters put together. So getting to a majority of public opinion on impeachment is not at all impossible.

          • "Leaners" aren't true Independents and any Independents that did vote are at a dismal 2.3%.

            Screw them. You have enough Democratic voters and a fair sampling of Republican voters who are ready for an impeachment that is reasonable to speculate is at least 50%. Start the damn proceedings and get whoever will testify. Opinions may or may not change, but the House needs to do their damn Constitutional duty, because the Senate may never convict him. And that becomes important as the 2020 election starts to come closer.


  6. Off topic… This is a line from Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post. I thought it should be shared with those who haven't seen it.

    "I don’t often feel compassion for the British royals, but today they have my hopes and prayers. Even their unrivaled talent at keeping a stiff upper lip is being sorely tested."

    • I thought it was fucking amazing that tRump would go over there and suggest that he wants to make a deal after brexit that would include privatising the British Government Healthcare. Essentially he wants American Healthcare companies (the ones who rip us off here at home) to be able to do business in the UK. What fucking slimeball!

      • Trump the stable genius' idea of privatizing the NHS reminds me of line from Ted Kennedy's eulogy of his brother Bobby.

          Some men see things as they are and ask, Why? I dream things that never will be and ask, Why not?

  7. I've long commented on, or more accurately trolled, a British right wing blog and have been needling them about Trump's plans for the NHS. They have no reply. They're much like our wingnuts who demand Medicare but hate 'socialism'. An almost unanimously pro-Brexit bunch, they see interference in their politics and government by Trump as equal to interference by the EU's Jean-Claude Juncker. They also hoot at the idea far right Trump pal Nigel Farage, of the newly-formed Brexit party, could possibly be mixed up with the Russians, which he most likely is.

    Conservative parties in Britain are considerably left of our Democratic party. The minority far right, populist, nationalist Brits hate the conservative Tories nearly as much as the farther left Labour party.


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