Impeachment?

Some say yes, others no.

A lot of people (at least on Twitter and other politically-laden platforms) are arguing over whether or not the Mueller Report, in all its redacted glory, contains sufficient grounds for impeachment. While many of Trump’s critics may think that the answer is “yes,” there is a debate over whether pursuit of impeachment is a good idea or not.

One can get a taste of the brewing debate from a piece by Ezra Klien at Vox:

At the Atlantic, Yoni Appelbaum called special counsel Robert Mueller’s report “an impeachment referral.” So did Mehdi Hasan at the Intercept. Jon Favreau, host of Pod Save Americatweeted, “I don’t know how you can read this report and not conclude that an impeachment inquiry is warranted.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) announced that she was signing onto Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D-MI) impeachment resolution.

The Democrats’ congressional leadership had a very different take. “Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. “Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgement.”

This did not prove a popular position. The New York Times’s Jamelle Bouie called Hoyer’s comments “an abdication of constitutional responsibility.” Lawfare’s Susan Hennessey said it would be “cowardly and wrong” for Democrats to avoid impeachment hearings just because “the political optics would be inconvenient or even damaging.”

Source: Klein, The problem with impeachment

Klein’s piece explores the general question in a way that is worth a read, and he concludes:

As I understand the House Democrats’ plan, it’s to use the Mueller report to launch investigations, send out subpoenas, and hold public hearings. All of that could lead to revelations that tilt the public toward impeachment, it could prove that the public doesn’t consider these revelations important enough to merit impeachment, or it could simply inform the public to help them make a decision in the 2020 election.

Either way, it keeps the focus on Trump’s crimes and his lies, rather than overwhelming that conversation with a debate over removing Trump from office at a time when there’s no prospect of marshaling the votes to actually remove him from office. It seems like a reasonable strategy to me.

This actually strikes me as the reasonable pathway. The Mueller Report has clearly given the Congress some work to do (although that work will only be done by the House for partisan reasons, but such is politics).

I am sympathetic to those who think that the Mueller Report confirms that the sitting president is unfit for office. Quite frankly, the conclusion that he tried to obstruct justice but just couldn’t get his subordinates to perform the appropriate tasks is no solace about his character. Indeed, I am not sure how a dispassionate reader (granted, those are hard to come by) can look at the document and conclude that Trump ought to be president.

Still, I tend to think that impeachment is not the right route at the moment, if anything because, like a lot of our constitutional machinery, it is clunky and not suited to the world of party politics in which we live.

What many people (i.e., Democrats) want is basically a vote of no confidence. They certainly have no confidence in Trump and want the world to know it (the fact that it would be a symbolic act be damned, it would seem). But, of course, this is not about a governing party/coalition no longer having confidence in the leader it chose. Instead, it is an opposition party wanting to punish a president it never wanted in the first place. Indeed, Trump’s party continues to have confidence in Trump, and hence the political standoff that the impeachment process in full faces.

Objectively, I get the position that Trump ought to go. I am on record as not thinking Trump fit for office, and so it will come as no shock that my view on his fitness has not grown as the result of the report. Still, I have to fall into the camp that says: let the House engage in further investigation (because I legitimately think further investigation is warranted) and let SDNY do its thing with whatever pending cases remains in their jurisdiction. And from there, the elections aren’t that far away (although the next 18+ months may at times feel like an eternity).

While some may argue, with good reason, that there is a moral and legal imperative revealed by the report, the reality is that that impeachment is inherently political and I do not see how the politics of the moment get us to removal and I am not convinced that even impeachment (i.e., indictment in the House) would be helpful–especially since the time it would likely take to undertake the process likely is similar to the amount of time it is going to take to get to the 2020 election cycle.

Back to the Constitution: any process that requires a super-majority, which removal by the Senate would, is essentially a non-starter unless there is a broad consensus. There is no broad consensus, indeed, there is clear and obvious polarization.

I will confess: part of me thinks that impeachment by the House, even without removal by the Senate, is an appropriate historical addendum to the Trump presidency. The other part of me thinks that such an action would be seen as so thoroughly partisan that it would lose all meaning and simply serve to further polarize our politics.

Back to the Klein piece, the following (which is towards the end of the piece) is noteworthy:

“If you’re president, you get to commit whatever crime you’d like, so long as your party has enough votes in Congress to help you escape conviction,” writes Favreau. “Does that seem like a great precedent?”

No, it’s a terrible precedent. But then, we’re trapped in a terrible political system. All the options are bad. Justice is never assured, and it’s not even likely.

Favreau isn’t wrong morally, but politically it is true: if your party has enough votes to block removal, then a president can theoretically act with impunity. This is especially true if we continue to adhere to the notion that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

Madison wrote in Federalist 51:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

If anything, we clearly have no angel in the White House.

Still, the problem is not only are humans far from angelic, the need for political parties to protect their power by protecting their own, further lead us down a pathway of less than angelic behavior.

Madison went on to say:

A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions. This policy of supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives, might be traced through the whole system of human affairs, private as well as public. We see it particularly displayed in all the subordinate distributions of power, where the constant aim is to divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that each may be a check on the other that the private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights. These inventions of prudence cannot be less requisite in the distribution of the supreme powers of the State. But it is not possible to give to each department an equal power of self-defense. In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates. The remedy for this inconveniency is to divide the legislature into different branches; and to render them, by different modes of election and different principles of action, as little connected with each other as the nature of their common functions and their common dependence on the society will admit. It may even be necessary to guard against dangerous encroachments by still further precautions. As the weight of the legislative authority requires that it should be thus divided, the weakness of the executive may require, on the other hand, that it should be fortified.

I would note, however, the following:

  1. Neither the structure of the Senate, nor that of the Electoral College, allows for adequate reliance on the people (heck, if the EC really relied on the people, we wouldn’t be talking about President Trump). Our constitution fails us on that count.
  2. While Madison thought that, “In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates,” the reality is that our system has evolved a skew towards the president (especially given general congressional dysfunction in recent years) .
  3. The checks and balances he talks about above do not work as he envisioned, due to the way political parties affect our system of government. I wrote about that fairy extensively here: Party Trumps Institutional Separation.
FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Modulo Myself says:

    “Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. “Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgement.”

    What an utterly dumb outlook. The obstruction charges are obvious, and there will be no political blowback for impeachment, especially if he’s going to be investigated. More importantly, impeaching a corrupt President is what Congress should be doing. And if the system is terrible and produces unpopular outcomes like Trump (and it is and it does) then meekly bowing one’s head and going along with it is a dumb move.

    Obama, for all of his gifts, bowed his head and waited for judgment, and we ended up with racists voting for an infantile moron because a black guy was really good at going along with the terrible American system.

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  2. gVOR08 says:

    First, and not entirely on topic, in current circumstances the DOJ opinion that a sitting President can’t be indicted is nonsense. IANAL, but the published accounts say it depends on two arguments. First, the president is crucial to the functioning of government. This is mostly an expression of the Unitary Executive in the strong, i.e. authoritarian, form, and is not a matter of law. To the extent it is valid, as noted above, it is a flaw in our system to be corrected. The second argument is that the president can’t do his job if distracted by legal action. A, it’s established he can be distracted by civil suits. B, if he really did shoot someone there’s nothing we can do short of impeachment? Really? And C, we can’t afford to distract a man who spends his work days watching FOX “News” and his weekends golfing FFS.

    There is a good argument that the House has a Constitutional duty to impeach. We wouldn’t be in this position if Constitutional duties were enforceable. That makes it a moral imperative. Barring a smoking gun, or incredibly bad poll numbers, the fwcking GOPs in the Senate will not convict, end of story. Can you have a moral obligation to do something you cannot do?

    Did Mueller feel he was setting the stage for impeachment? It would be good to ask him. It so, it would be good to ask how he thought that might work. If he doesn’t have a good plan, it would be good to ask WTF he thought he was accomplishing.

    Politically, it’s probably best that we not impeach, but keep him and his accomplices in a cloud of investigations and legal actions. But if he starts a war or there’s a SCOTUS vacancy, that could really start to bite. I wonder if Pelosi could get McConnell to agree behind the scenes that he won’t allow a SCOTUS confirmation if Pelosi won’t force a bill of impeachment on him. If McConnell did agree, is there any chance the lying POS would honor the agreement?

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  3. reid says:

    I’ve been slowly moving towards the “impeach” point of view. There seems to be an assumption that impeachment would somehow be politically damaging to the Democrats. Look at Clinton. But the situations are very different. Clinton’s investigation and impeachment were very political, and people knew that. Here, we have a corrupt, incompetent president who, if he was anyone else, would likely be facing jail time for his crimes. Impeaching in the House would bring out more sordid details and show that the Democrats have spines and are willing to do the right thing. I suspect they would actually strengthen their position with the non-Fox crowd by choosing that course.

    Of course, I could be wrong. And the easy, safe course is for them to do nothing.

  4. Kit says:

    such an action would be seen as so thoroughly partisan that it would lose all meaning and simply serve to further polarize our politics.

    Agreed: in the short term. But serious people should be looking beyond the next news cycle. Tactically, Democrats are betting that the path back to power is easier by avoiding moving forward with impeachment. Strategically, they are conceding that the President is the law, at least to the extent that Congress lacks the will to impeach. This is not a slippery slope argument. This is tacitly admitting that the Republic stands at the pleasure of the President.

  5. SenyorDave says:

    @gVOR08: If McConnell did agree, is there any chance the lying POS would honor the agreement?

    As they say on Law and Order, asked and answered.

  6. Teve says:

    Ezra Klein
    @ezraklein
    ·
    Apr 19
    It’s a sign of the rot in our political system that all conversation about holding the president accountable takes the form of discussing “What Democrats should do,” because Republicans have utterly abdicated their oversight role.

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  7. Stormy Dragon says:

    If the current situation does not warrant impeachment, what situation would?

  8. @Stormy Dragon: The question is, I think (and I do continue to think about this) is not whether it is warranted, but whether there is a point to it (since it is clear that removal is not in the cards).

    I think that there is a real question as to whether impeachment without any meaningful chance of removal in a highly polarized partisan context is an wise choice (especially as to what it achieves).

  9. Gustopher says:

    While some may argue, with good reason, that there is a moral and legal imperative revealed by the report, the reality is that that impeachment is inherently political and I do not see how the politics of the moment get us to removal and I am not convinced that even impeachment (i.e., indictment in the House) would be helpful–especially since the time it would likely take to undertake the process likely is similar to the amount of time it is going to take to get to the 2020 election cycle.

    I would focus on what the morally right thing to do is, before considering the short term politics. Has the President committed impeachable offenses, which merit his removal from office? Accepting and welcoming interference from a foreign power in our elections, and then attempting to prevent any investigation so it can continue — I would say that in addition to a rock solid case on obstruction, we have a failure to protect from enemies foreign and domestic. He should go.

    Politically… the Republicans paid almost no price for the Clinton impeachment, and that was about minor crap. Further, if this does drag on for the next 18 months, I think Republicans risk suffering from their own version of Clinton E-Mail Fatigue where the weak supporters stay home because they just want this crap over.

    It’s the right thing to do, and it probably doesn’t hurt us. There isn’t even an opportunity cost — except for all those great bills the House is passing to go languish and die waiting for a vote that will never come in the Senate.

  10. JKB says:

    I see the potential for some good TV this summer as the Dems thrash about. First off, as for impeachment, the election is coming and a good number of House Dems hail from districts that voted for Trump. Without a legit, widespread public belief, voting for impeachment is not a good bet for vulnerable House members.

    Then their will be “investigations”. But while President Trump permitted the Mueller report to be released, as there is no legal basis for its release to Congress or the public without his approval, the administration documents, testimony and other cooperation was given without waiver of either Executive privilege or attorney client privilege. So the information underlying the Mueller report is still subject to Trump waiver of those privileges. Similarly the testimony of White House staff, including McGhan, on which so many have hung their dubious obstruction fantasies.

    Now, Congress can go to the courts, but that means this will either be abandoned or run deep into the 2020 primary and possibly general election season.

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  11. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @JKB:

    no legal basis for its release to Congress or the public

    While it may be true that there is no legal requirement for the release of the redacted Mueller report, can you cite the legal basis that prevents it’s release.

    Or maybe, Trump’s advisers decided that it would be politically more damaging for Trump to order his Justice Dept to hide it.

  12. JKB says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    “Attorney General may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest, to the extent that release would comply with applicable legal restrictions.”

    Release is permitted at the discretion of the Attorney General, who works for the President and “public interest” is a litigable determination. As it was, Trump left it entirely up to the AG.

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  13. @JKB: Ok, so you are saying that if the House calls Mueller of McGahn (or whomever) to testify that the White House is then going to assert executive privilege to block them from testifying?

    Yes, that will help Trump out immensely.

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  14. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    “Obama, for all of his gifts, bowed his head and waited for judgment, and we ended up with racists voting for an infantile moron because a black guy was really good at going along with the terrible American system he knew that racists and people who didn’t approve of Hillary on the other side weren’t going to give a rat’s ass about what a black man thought.
    FTFY. (He wasn’t Green Lantern in 2016 and still isn’t.)

  15. Tony W says:

    I am slowly warming to impeachment as well.

    First, I have come to believe this is exactly the asterisk this presidency needs, and that asterisk is supported by over 400 pages of evidence.

    Second, consider the situation if we don’t impeach. If, after the damning Mueller report, we simply let him continue to “govern” and continue his presidency without any singificant response, we have sent a message to future presidents, and frankly to the world, that the rules and norms don’t matter – do what you want, the investigation will take too long to do anything about it.

    Third, the Democrats rarely are willing to play hardball and I’d like them to land a well-deserved black-eye on this one. It’s nowhere near as trivial as Bill Clinton’s impeachment.

    Lastly, there will be no political blowback. This country is divided, and nearly nobody is on the fence about Trump. An impeachment hearing, with an official day-after-day, televised airing of the full contents of the Mueller report, plus who knows what else, will change nobody’s mind about the guy – but may well injure him with his base in advance of the 2020 election, which, in turn, might well save the republic from a 2nd term Trump with nothing to lose.

  16. Teve says:

    @Tony W:

    First, I have come to believe this is exactly the asterisk this presidency needs, and that asterisk is supported by over 400 pages of evidence.

    I generally lean toward the ‘Trump is garbage, but the Republican Senate is garbage, and the Republican base is garbage, so just focus on replacing him and equally importantly the senate in 18 months’ position.

    But something that most of us aren’t thinking about is that Mueller’s directive was pretty limited. Impeachment investigations don’t have to be limited, they can look at his tax fraud schemes, his bank fraud, money from China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, stealing from his own charity, etc, and they can put all his gutter sleaze on TV every day. And after 6 months of that, there is a good chance that his presidency will indeed be, as he put it, “fucked.”

    So IDK.

  17. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    ” Indeed, I am not sure how a dispassionate reader (granted, those are hard to come by) can look at the document and conclude that Trump ought to be president.”

    On the other hand, who is out there that could be persuaded that Trump ought not to be president who didn’t realize that in 2016? JKB? Guarneri? Florak? Bueller… Bueller…?

    Any dispassionate readers out there already knew; unfortunately, they also knew later that *conspiracy* was going to be a tough sell.

  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @reid: I would note that though you realize and assert that Trump is corrupt, there’s no overwhelming consensus on that point (that opponents will admit to). More to the point though is a comment I heard from an adult student while I was teaching in Daegu, South Korea:

    We know that Lee (Myung Bak) is corrupt, we just don’t care.

    to which most of the other students in class nodded in agreement.

    Trump is certainly no Lee Myung Bak, to be sure, but that’s beside the point in this case, I think.

  19. charon says:

    Damaging Trump, getting rid of Trump is the short game. Trump is a manifestation of a bigger problem, the fascistic cult that the Conservative enterprise has evolved into.

    The long game is important as well, I think best served by working to ensure plenty of Trump stink adheres to the GOP, his enablers at the Murdoch enterprises etc.

    Investigating Trump with attendant publicity should generate lots of Trump stink to spread around.

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  20. Jes Phillips says:

    From a purely strategic viewpoint would you rather face Trump or another republican?

  21. JKB says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Couldn’t hurt Trump as the matter has already been investigated over two years. Russian interference in the election was found and is now a foreign policy matter. No Trump campaign or administration official was found to have colluded with Russians. No factual basis for obstruction of justice was found.

    The only thing the hearings would do is give Congress people chattering time on camera. Trump not cooperating with this time a partisan witch hunt would just be logical. Of course, history is that Trump gives unprecedented cooperation while slamming the partisan hacks on social media.

    But this will all get scrambled when the DoJ IG reports comes out and they start raiding the co-conspirators in the spying operation that never had a valid predicate.

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  22. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think that there is a real question as to whether impeachment without any meaningful chance of removal in a highly polarized partisan context is an wise choice (especially as to what it achieves).

    You seem to advocate that pursuing a just outcome is meaningless and unwise unless it succeeds. I can’t second that. like, at all. I strongly disagree.

  23. charon says:

    From a purely strategic viewpoint would you rather face Trump or another republican?

    This is a very secondary consideration. From the standpoint of doing the right thing, the tail should not wag the dog.

    a real question as to whether impeachment without any meaningful chance of removal in a highly polarized partisan context is an wise choice

    We don’t know there is no meaningful chance for removal in the future, things can change. They well might, as more information gets publicized and as Trump’s mental health and behavior continue to worsen.

    But, even if partisanship means no conviction, so what? If senators choose to acquit an obviously guilty culprit, they can then take that back to their voters and get their opinion.

    I think there is an element of poker bluffing here. The GOP would rather not have to defend Trump, so trying to discourage that by giving the impression conviction is impossible.

  24. Tony W says:

    @charon:

    From a purely strategic viewpoint would you rather face Trump or another republican?

    This is a very secondary consideration. From the standpoint of doing the right thing, the tail should not wag the dog.

    So much this – I care much more about our republic than I do about assuring a Democrat wins the presidency next time around.

  25. charon says:
  26. charon says:

    @charon:

    BREAKING: Chairman Schiff says Congress is considering impeachment proceedings against Trump. He said impeachment would likely be unsuccessful due to Republicans helping Trump “no matter how corrupt” his conduct may be. Says Congress may ”undertake an impeachment nonetheless.”

  27. @JKB:

    No factual basis for obstruction of justice was found.

    You are not reading the actual report if you think that. You are not listening to people who are being honest. There is clear evidence of obstruction–the question was not one of evidence, but whether or not the DOJ would pursue the indictment of a sitting president.

    Indeed, the report explicitly states that it does not exonerate Trump on obstruction and also states that if the investigation could have done so, it would have.

    Your claims is utterly counter to the facts.

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  28. @de stijl:

    You seem to advocate that pursuing a just outcome is meaningless and unwise unless it succeeds. I can’t second that. like, at all. I strongly disagree.

    To be honest, I simply question whether impeachment without any chance of removal equates to a just outcome. I am persuadable that impeachment alone is worth the symbol, the aforementioned asterisk.

    Ultimately, the only way to any kind of just outcome will be to defeat him in 2020.

    Please note: I am in favor of continued investigation. Indeed, I think that the report basically puts Congress in a position that it needs to continue.

  29. @charon:

    We don’t know there is no meaningful chance for removal in the future, things can change.

    I think we have a pretty darn good idea of what the odds of removal are. I concur that if things change, then the odds would be different. But that is always true and also rarely helpful as a guide to action.

    As I noted: the investigation should continue.

    And I am persuadable that impeachment without removal may have some usefulness. I am concerned that it will ultimately be hollow and that it will only deepen out current polarized environment.

    History is going to recognize Trump for what he is whether he is impeached or not.

  30. @Tony W:

    So much this – I care much more about our republic than I do about assuring a Democrat wins the presidency next time around.

    I think, at the moment, you cannot separate those issues. What is more important: impeachment without removal or defeating Trump in 2020?

    I am not saying that impeachment would help Trump (although it may rally his base, weirdly)–I am just saying that the health of the republic is more about 2020 than it is a about impeachment.

  31. @charon:

    But, even if partisanship means no conviction, so what? If senators choose to acquit an obviously guilty culprit, they can then take that back to their voters and get their opinion.

    Do you really think that Senators from deep red states will be punished for voting to acquit?

  32. charon says:

    Please note: I am in favor of continued investigation. Indeed, I think that the report basically puts Congress in a position that it needs to continue.

    It appears pretty likely that continued investigation will provide clear evidence of impeachable conduct, so what then?

    I think way to much weight is given to concerns about energizing the GOP base or the public doesn’t like divisiveness or that would distract from some legislative agenda or etc etc.

    Follow the process, let the chips fall as they will, do what is right. To do otherwise is to acquiesce to the direction the GOP and Trump are embarked on.

  33. charon says:

    Do you really think that Senators from deep red states will be punished for voting to acquit?

    A) Not all GOP senators are from deep red states. Let’s put my senator Martha McSally on the spot.

    B) Voters in other states will notice the behavior of red state senators, may affect their senate majority.

  34. @charon:

    Follow the process, let the chips fall as they will, do what is right.

    Which really isn’t all that different from what I have said, TBH. The only difference is that I think “do what is right” is more complicated than it sounds.

    A) Not all GOP senators are from deep red states. Let’s put my senator Martha McSally on the spot.

    B) Voters in other states will notice the behavior of red state senators, may affect their senate majority.

    I would have to sit down with a map in regards to A: but there are an awful lot of safe Senate seats. I guess the real question would be what the map is in 2020. Which class is up and how many Rs would be anywhere close to vulnerable–perhaps something that I ought to do.

    I just know from the polls, and from all the Trump supporters I encounter here and IRL, that it seems highly unlikely that they would flip on him.

  35. charon says:

    I am not saying that impeachment would help Trump (although it may rally his base, weirdly)–I am just saying that the health of the republic is more about 2020 than it is a about impeachment.

    What about energizing Democrats? What about energizing independents or occasional voters who could be outraged by enough publicity to Trump’s conduct? Elizabeth Warren seems to think getting out in front of this is ok to do, she’s a 2020 candidate, perhaps she’s right.

  36. @charon: I think that there are already ample ways to motivate Dems. 2018 showed that.

  37. charon says:

    I would have to sit down with a map in regards to A: but there are an awful lot of safe Senate seats. I guess the real question would be what the map is in 2020. Which class is up and how many Rs would be anywhere close to vulnerable–perhaps something that I ought to do.

    I agree that most of these 8 are not really vulnerable, but here is an aspirational list of people the Democrats want to pressure:

    Lindsey Graham (SC) Cory Gardner (CO) Martha McSally (AZ) Thom Tillis (NC) Susan Collins (ME) David Perdue (GA) Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS) Mitch McConnell (KY)

    https://twitter.com/funder/status/1112024862820839429

    Maybe Gardner, McSally, Collins?

    I don’t think McConnell is totally safe either, worth at least some pressure.

  38. Kit says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I am persuadable that impeachment alone is worth the symbol, the aforementioned asterisk.

    Ultimately, the only way to any kind of just outcome will be to defeat him in 2020.

    Perhaps this circle can be squared as follows:
    – announce that while the President looks guilty, impeachment is too serious to contemplate without having a full command of the facts;
    – launch thorough investigations;
    – keep these investigations in the news over the next 12+ months;
    – come forward with the results, but say that impeachment would require too much time and that there is an election approaching. However, make it clear that if the man is elected, then impeachment will go forward.

    That strategy carries it’s own risks, but does at least take ideals, responsibilities, and political realities into account.

  39. Michael Reynolds says:

    1) We have a legal process, we should pursue it.
    2) If we uncover corruption, Trump’s numbers will start to fall.
    3) If we uncover corruption and GOP Senators still won’t follow the law we will have proof that the Republican Party itself is corrupt and rejects the rule of law.
    4) The GOP was once the Daddy party: fiscal restraint, strong defense, law and order, moral rectitude, competence. They’ve lost fiscal restraint, moral rectitude and competence. If we can take away ‘law and order’ they’re left with nothing but ‘strong defense.’

    Do it. Impeach the creep.

  40. @charon:

    Lindsey Graham (SC) Cory Gardner (CO) Martha McSally (AZ) Thom Tillis (NC) Susan Collins (ME) David Perdue (GA) Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS) Mitch McConnell (KY)

    SC, MS, and KY aren’t switching.

    ME is likely to switch regardless of impeachment.

    AZ and CO are already in the potentially competitive column.

    NC and GA: maybe.

  41. @Michael Reynolds:

    1) We have a legal process, we should pursue it.

    This is problem: it isn’t a legal process. It is a political one (or, if you want a more neutral term, an administrative one: it is how HR fires the president–it has no legal bearing at all).

    2) If we uncover corruption, Trump’s numbers will start to fall.
    3) If we uncover corruption and GOP Senators still won’t follow the law we will have proof that the Republican Party itself is corrupt and rejects the rule of law.

    We have evidence of both already.

    I agree that investigation will continue (and should).

  42. @Kit: I think this is largely where I am at the moment.

  43. charon says:

    this is problem: it isn’t a legal process. It is a political one

    Why not both? The House judiciary committee, no?

  44. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    It’s legal in the sense that it’s right there in the Constitution. I think describing it as political is oversimplifying and perhaps unintentionally denigrating of a process laid out by the Founders to be used in extreme cases to protect the country. This is such an extreme case, exactly what’s supposed to be addressed via impeachment. Failure to move forward amounts to a shrug and an avoidance of responsibility. We hire these people to do a job, this is part of what they were hired to deal with.

  45. @charon: @Michael Reynolds: It is inherently not a legal process. It is not about applying a law to a situation, nor is it about legal sanction.

    I think describing it as political is oversimplifying and perhaps unintentionally denigrating of a process laid out by the Founders to be used in extreme cases to protect the country.

    I honestly and unequivocally think that it is fundamentally political in nature. I don’t think it is a denigration to say so, I think it is the most accurate way to describe the process.

    The fact that any understanding of either the initiation of the process, or of its likely outcomes, underscore this fact. That is: the outcome of both impeachment and removal is heavily predicated on the partisan content of the chambers in question. This is unavoidably the case.

    The fact that Charon noted above the chance that the outcome could be swayed by the competitiveness of certain Senate elections underscores this fact.

    These are not neutral arbiters of the law. They are elected officials driven by politics, pure and simple.

    Even from a constitutional perspective, the process is clearly administrative and not legal in nature: as I said, it is a process to fire someone, not a process to hold someone legally accountable.

    BTW: like a lot of thing, the Framers got this one wrong. They thought that the Congress would be far more independent of the President than is the case. They failed to account for the role of parties. Republicans in the congress are far more interested in protecting their president than they are in protecting their constitutional role as a separated branch of government.

  46. @Michael Reynolds: Also:

    Failure to move forward amounts to a shrug and an avoidance of responsibility. We hire these people to do a job, this is part of what they were hired to deal with.

    And I am not being snarky: do you think that the voters who voted for Republicans feel that way at the moment? We both know the answer, and therefore the political nature of the process is further underscored.

  47. @charon: By that logic, the Intelligence committee does spying and the Financial Services committee provides financial services.

  48. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    As I noted: the investigation should continue.

    And I am persuadable that impeachment without removal may have some usefulness. I am concerned that it will ultimately be hollow and that it will only deepen out current polarized environment.

    I think Trump is immune to scandal and investigation. There’s a never-ending stream of scandal coming from this administration, and it’s easy to lose sight of the seriousness or dismiss it as partisan sniping.

    Articles of impeachment require the press to focus, which focuses the voters. For every charge, the media will have to look at:
    – are the underlying facts correct?
    – does that constitute the crime or misdemeanor?
    – is removal necessary?

    It limits the both-sides-do-it, false-equivalencies. It will still be there, and there will still be horse race style stories about how impeachment is going, but there will also have to be real reporting on the underlying charges everywhere other than Fox.

    Also, I’m looking forward to McConnell saying that the Senate just won’t take up the impeachment trial.

  49. In regards to the legal issue, Fed 69:

    The President of the United States would be liable to be impeached, tried, and, upon conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors, removed from office; and would afterwards be liable to prosecution and punishment in the ordinary course of law.

    Here Hamilton discusses impeachment as basically firing the president, with the legal system then having the change to prosecute and punish.

    Impeachment and removal is fundamentally an administrative process animated and driven by political will. Prosecution and punishment is the domain of the criminal justice system.

    (I feel like the Law & Oder DUN DUN is needed here).

  50. mike shupp says:

    There is, I think, an overlooked alternative to impeachment. Asking the Russians to help sway election results is acceptable to Republicans, so Democrats should respond by asking the Chinese to open up their intelligence folders and disclose as much as possible that discredits Republican politicians, from Trump on down. And others actually — there are probably would-be whistleblowers in British and French and Australian and Israeli intelligence agencies with nasty tales to recount about obnoxious Americans.

    The Democrats should do this publicly and loudly — after all, the Republicans have given their permission in advance.

  51. @Gustopher: You are more sanguine than I that impeachment proceedings will be treated and perceived any differently than what we have already witnessed with Mueller and countless other evidence-based reasons that ought to have all Americans calling his resignation.

    I think everyone who thinks impeachment hearings will change the narrative need to think back both to the Clinton process, which did not achieve this goal, and the cavalcade of things Trump has said and done that has not moved the needle. Just consider “grab ’em by the pussy” and the fact that he is the unindicted co-conspirator in a felony already (or his dissing of McCain, or his sleeping with porn stars and paying them off, etc).

    I think a lot of false hope is being placed on the impeachment square. I have not confidence that “this time it will be different!”

  52. @Gustopher:

    Also, I’m looking forward to McConnell saying that the Senate just won’t take up the impeachment trial.

    And interesting scenario. I suspect it would make him a hero with the GOP.

  53. charon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think everyone who thinks impeachment hearings will change the narrative need to think back both to the Clinton process, which did not achieve this goal, and the cavalcade of things Trump has said and done that has not moved the needle. Just consider “grab ’em by the pussy” and the fact that he is the unindicted co-conspirator in a felony already (or his dissing of McCain, or his sleeping with porn stars and paying them off, etc).

    http://yastreblyansky.blogspot.com/2019/04/good-impeachment-takes-time.html

    There’s some really interesting news out of the Reuters-Ipsos poll (h/t Scott Stedman), which has found, in polling conducted Thursday through this morning, that Trump’s approval rating has dropped 3 percentage points since the Mueller report was released, to its lowest level of the year to date in that poll, 37%. Although—and this is important—support for impeachment remains pretty weak.

    The really startling thing is the share Republicans are taking in the result, with the total number approving Trump at 75%, down from 83% in late March. That’s a lot!

    My emphasis

    And that the most important prep work is not in the Speaker’s office, or even that of the House Judiciary chairman, but in the public, which the Ipsos poll suggests now may finally be starting to happen, but public disapproval of the president is a leading indicator, and support for the traumatic business of impeachment lags. And the the Judiciary Committee’s work can get done in large part without calling it an impeachment, as Jerry Nadler’s committee has in fact been doing since January, and as Peter Rodino’s committee did for at least two months in 1974. You don’t have to call it an impeachment inquiry to get the work done.

    And that this one is moving with really remarkable speed—I see that the immeasurably calm Elijah Cummings, chairman of is ready to start talking about it (“Trump’s conduct laid out in the section of the redacted Mueller report about obstruction was ‘at least 100 times worse’ than what former President Bill Clinton came under scrutiny for”). And my current favorite presidential candidate is going farther than that (I’m not sure her timing is right, thoug).

  54. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I don’t think the Clinton impeachment is a good model, because the Clinton charges were unrelated to his job as president.

    And, I think every impeachment will be different. They don’t happen often, and the circumstances are different. I don’t expect that it will be like Nixon where the Republicans all supported him right up until they didn’t. And I don’t expect it will be like Clinton.

    I have not confidence that “this time it will be different!”

    I would say the same about investigations. In fact, I will.

    As far as more investigations go, I have not confidence that “this time it will be different!”

  55. Steve V says:

    @charon: I’m afraid they are immune to stink. In 2009 Bush left office with an approval rating in the 20s, and people were saying he had finished the GOP for for good and they’d finally reckon with demographic inevitability. Then they laid low for about a year, called themselves “tea parties” and became even crazier. I don’t know how this will ever end.

  56. Andrew says:

    While I agree with how Pelosi is handling the actual political landscape. Knowing the senate would turn this into a clusterfuck.
    … if I had my choice.

    I’d say let’s treat Trump like he is a Democrat with a Congress that’s completely republican…

    Benghazi? I want it to look infinitesimal next to what Congress does to Trump. After all, it’s what the GOP would do.

  57. An Interested Party says:

    If only impeachment were only a legal process…Trump would have been long gone from the White House…