Pursuing Impeachment Is A Moral Imperitive
The time for sitting on the sidelines is over. Donald Trump cannot be allowed to get away with his usurpation of power, his disdain for the law, or his continued policies that have damaged the country.
David Brooks argues in his most recent New York Time Op-Ed that, regardless of the seriousness of the newest allegations against the President, impeachment is a mistake. He starts out by admitting that Trump most likely did commit an impeachable offense by seeking to blackmail a foreign nation to assist him in undermining a political opponent, but then goes on to argue that actually impeaching him for that conduct is a bad idea:
Brooks’ first argument is essentially a procedural one, that impeaching the President would be a pointless act because there’s little chance that the President will be convicted in the Senate. The result is that the President will walk away from the impeachment in basically the same position that President’s Johnson and Clinton did before him, and that he will claim to have been vindicated no matter how clear the evidence against him actually is. Both of these points are probably true, and they are admittedly ones that I’ve made before myself, and it was largely the basis for my previous position that impeachment should be avoided in favor of investigating the Administration and putting the evidence before the American people for them to decide as part of the 2020 election.
The events of the past two weeks, though, and the revelations we’ve gotten from the release of the President’s phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, the whistleblower’s complaint, and the Inspector General’s report to the Acting Director of National Intelligence, have laid out a case that cannot be ignored. We have sitting in the White House a President who not only dismisses concerns about Russian interference but in fact seems to encourage such interference. Such a person must be impeached for the good of the nation. If he is acquitted by the Senate, then it will say more about Senate Republicans and their venality and contempt for the rule of law than anything else they could fo.
From there, Brooks goes on to make the utterly ridiculous argument that impeachment at this point would somehow be anti-democratic because, if it did succeed it would interfere with the voter’s ability to make a determination about whether Trump should stay in office at the election. On a related note, he also argues that impeachment itself would interfere with the Democratic nomination process because it would overwhelm any policy discussion that might take place during the primaries.
The first point is, quite simply, an absurd one. There is nothing in the Constitution that says that Congresses duty under the impeachment clause doesn’t apply in an election year. Interpreting it to say that, or that it doesn’t apply in the final years of a President’s second term, is to essentially say that a President can get away with wrongdoing by committing his crimes at a politically inconvenient time or that Congress is excused from its Constitutional duty by what year it happens to be. The second point is something of a non sequitur since Trump, his actions, and his disregard for the law are a significant part of the discussion among the Democratic candidates. That’s going to be the case regardless of whether or not the President is impeached and put on trial in the Senate.
From there, Brooks goes on to argue that the American people don’t want Congress to focus on impeachment:
Pelosi said she would not proceed with impeachment unless there was a bipartisan groundswell of support. There is no bipartisan groundswell, and yet she’s proceeding. According to a Quinnipiac University poll, only 37 percent of Americans support impeachment.
The presidential candidates all report the same phenomenon. Voters are asking them about health care and jobs and climate change, not impeachment. This week, while all this was unfolding, I was in Waco, Nantucket and Kansas City. I had conversations or encounters with hundreds of people. Only one even mentioned impeachment, a fellow journalist.
There is a big difference between the conversation Twitter wants to have and the conversation the broader populace wants to have
This is a fair point, but Brooks obviously wrote this column before the recent polling, most of it released in the past week or so, that demonstrates a significant jump in the percentage of Americans who support the idea of opening an impeachment inquiry as well as polls showing that Trump seeking dirt on a political opponent from a foreign nation is a serious issue. For months now, pundits have been wondering if and when public opinion might turn around on this issue. The Russia investigation didn’t exactly do it, neither did the Stormy Daniels/Karen McDougal scandal, or the Emoluments Clause issue. This issue, though, is an easy one to understand and one that is basically proven by the documents the White House itself has released. Additionally, while Congress should be careful about getting too far ahead of public opinion on this issue, there is also the fact that these members of the Hosue and Senate took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” There is no exception to that duty that says “only when it’s popular.”
Brooks next argues that impeachment would play into Trump’s hands somehow:
Trump has no policy agenda. He’s incompetent at improving the lives of American citizens, even his own voters. But he’s good at one thing: waging reality TV personality wars against coastal elites. So now over the next few months he gets to have a personality war against Nancy Pelosi and Jerrold Nadler.
This is a fairly weak argument when you give it the slightest degree of thought. Brooks is right about Trump, of course, but the fact of the matter is that Trump is going to run the kind of campaign Brooks envisions here regardless of whether or not he’s impeached. That’s one of the reasons why a big part of the Democratic race revolves around the question of which candidate would be best at taking him on in the kind of one-on-one rhetorical battle that we know we’re headed for. Regardless of her other qualifications, Hillary Clinton was especially ill-suited for this task, and that is arguably one of the many reasons she lost the election among those working-class voters in the Midwest she needed and neglected. If they are going to win in 2020, Democrats will need a candidate who can match Trump at this level. That was going to be true regardless of whether or not the House proceeds with impeachment.
Brooks next argues that proceeding with public cyncism regarding the political process. To be frank about it, the extent to which this President has poisoned the political process has made such cynicism inevitable so I’m not sure how impeachment is going to make that worse. Additionally, one could make the argument that failure to take the action that the Constitution allows in cases of Presidential wrongdoing as egregious as what we’ve seen here will do far more to increase public cynicism than moving forward on impeachment would.
Finally, Brooks argues that impeachment could end up embedding Trumpism even further into the GOP’s soul:
If Trump suffers a withering loss in a straight-up election campaign, then his populist tendency might shrink and mainstream Republicans might regain primacy. An election defeat would mean the people don’t like Trumpism. But the impeachment process reinforces the core Trumpist deep-state message: The liberal elites screw people like us. If Trump’s most visible opponents are D.C. lawyers, Trumpism becomes permanent.
The deep flaw with this argument is that it ignores the fact that, as James Joyner and myself have both noted, Trumpism already is embedded within the Republican Party. Indeed, as I have argued one can look back at the history of so-called conservatism in the Republican Party and see that Trumpism is nothing but the apex of what conservatism has been turning into for the past quarter-century. From there, we saw it slowly evolve from what conservatism had been during the Cold War into a nationalist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant populism that it became. To some degree, that transition was slowed down by the election of George W. Bush, who was more of a traditional conservative, and by the September 11th attacks that turned the attention of the nation to threats from abroad. Once the immediate impact of those events wore off, and especially after Barack Obama became President. From there, it was a quick trip from the Tea Party to Sarah Palin and, from there, to Donald Trump. Trumpism is the Republican Party now, impeachment isn’t going to make more likely something that has already happened.
Daniel Larison sums it all up nicely:
Trump committed an impeachable offense, and Brooks doesn’t dispute that. The House has no choice but to do its job and impeach him for that misconduct. To argue for anything less is to tolerate a flagrant abuse of presidential power committed for personal gain. I fail to see how that is in the best interest of the country.
Larison is absolutely correct. Impeachment should always be the last option, but we’ve come to the point where it is a moral necessity. This President has obstructed justice with respect to the Russia investigation. His campaign may have attempted to collude with Russia to gain advantages in the 2016 election. One month before the 2016 election, he conspired with his personal lawyer Michael Cohen to buy the silence of two women with whom he had affairs while his wife was pregnant. He continues to violate the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution. His Administration continues without reasonable justification to comply with duly issued subpoenas from Congress seeking to conduct their oversight responsibilities. And, now, we have proof that he essentially tried to blackmail a foreign country desperate for American aid to assist in finding “dirt” on a political rival. As I said earlier today on Twitter, Donald Trump is the clear and present danger that the Founding Fathers designed the Constitution to protect us from, that people like James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln, warned us about, and very much the threat that #NeverTrump’ers told you he would be. This is corruption of the highest order, it must be addressed, and impeachment is the manner the Constitution provides for doing that.
FYI, for some really nice background from the point of view of career foreign policy and intelligence professionals, I highly recommend this series of articles at Defense One. One key paragraph:
Let’s leave aside Johnson. It was a long time ago. With Clinton, what he did doesn’t really touch on his official duties at all. There was no abuse of power, just a tawdry affair and some fibbing about it.
With Trump the question that will be put before the Senate, and the country is “is this behavior tolerable in a president from your party or from the opposition?” I think the answer is no, it isn’t. I think there’s been more wrongdoing from Trump that has never seen the light of day because of sources and methods, but is known to certain Senators. I think they will vote on that, too.
But at the very least, when a member of the opposition breaks the law in order to damage your leading candidate and advance his own political position, of course you have to do everything in your power to stop him.
I seriously don’t mean this as a joke, but if the Democrats don’t impeach Trump, then trump and/or his campaign will use that as proof the Democrats are weak. The man has no shame, and concept of ethics or morality.
The GOP has gone into full obstruction mode, too, with Pompeo on record as being intent to block testimony.
Because when you’re innocent, you don’t want people who know the truth to let anyone know anything, right?
It’s going to be a long, hard slog.
Engaging with the Brooks mushroom at any point is a mistake. He is an intellectual fungus that uses specious language and aromatic phrases that engages a willing host that he then starts to rot and decay from the inside-out, leaving a hollowed out shell.
To a Brooks mushroom, appearance is all. Optics, rules, procedures, decorum, strategy, civility, fairness, are all used as a smokescreen to apologize for power.
His use of clichés and farcical arguments and special pleading for the GOP is now used as a method of propaganda, to spread his infectious message. He now literally exists only to suck nutrients from the political discourse in the United States.
@Kathy: not to mention that he would use the lack of impeachment as evidence that NO COLLUSION! TOTALLY PERFECT AND LEGAL AND BEUATIFUL (sic) PRESIDENT!
I urge you to try to reattach to reality. Otherwise, the future may simply be unbearable to you. A survived impeachment and broad support re-election. Trump has shown that he won’t make the fatal mistake of past presidents who came under fire and try to hunker down in the White House. He will fight, but from the field where he can maneuver, not from an Alamo-type siege.
As for Brooks:
He should have perhaps consulted with the Wall Street Journal for a more unbiased opinion:
Argue all you want about the who or when, but one of the best things a presidential administration can do is lift to boot off the neck of America and let her thrive free of the petty bureaucrats sent forth to eat out her substance.
And they would be right. Democrats have to fight. They don’t have to win, but they have to be seen fighting.
As woeful as Brooks’ reasoning is, it’s still better than Jonah Goldberg’s: who believes Trump should be allowed to get away with it because otherwise future presidents will believe they can also get away with it:
What is it with these Republicans and former Republicans who see Trump for what it is but still think that everyone should just stand back and let him break laws?
@Kari Q: I literally just blocked that idiot on Twitter this morning.
Does he realize he’s saying that a Republican Senate is bad for America?
I think in establishing the investigation, the Dems have crossed the Rubicon for the reasons Kathy articulated. Arguments about whether it was the right choice will be argued by historians, but they are currently a waste of news print.
Congress need to stop their vacation, come back to Washington and impeach Trump.
During the impeachment,the Republicans should hold a vigil at the Lincoln memorial like the Democrats did at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial during Clinton Impeachment.
I…. got…. nothing. Just nothing. Cognitive dissonance isn’t dead, but it is so far back in the rear view mirror you will look back on those days as the coherent time of your life.
@OzarkHillbilly: It’s all projection.
Again *opinion* is the operative word here as man provides a link to the *opinion* section of the WSJ yet presents this as *fact.*
You apparently have a very different definition of “unbiased” as editorial/opinion pieces have no requirement to be either fact-checked or maintain any level of objectivity.
That’s before we get to the fact that this “unbiased” opinion piece was written by failed Trump Fed Candidate Stephen Moore – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Moore_(writer)
You kinda buried a bunch of ledes there…
So you are literally saying you don’t give a damn if the President did something illegal as long as your pittance is increased (at least until the next recession crushes you again)? Why do you sell yourself so cheaply? At least hold out for car or something! I know you’re not getting the sweet permanent tax break the 1% did but it’s really sad you’re not valuing yourself properly.
Of course incomes are doing better outside of a recession then when we’re in one – which is what Bush started and Obama dragged us out of. Trump’s been riding that high for years now and he’s managed to not kill it despite some serious missteps. That’s not an excuse to get out of jail, literally. At this point you are a Trumpkin or you are not. Someone like you will defend himself even as the bus he tossed you under crushes you. You’re not even trying to proclaim he’s innocent anymore, just that he’s good for the bank account.
Headlines are the first draft of history.
@Lit3Bolt: Upvoted for a great metaphor!
As Mike Nifong would say:
If they did not do anything why do they need a Lawyer?
Why did the Duke Lacrosse rapists hire Lawyers if they were innocent?
The enormous welfare handouts to farmers and other victims of his trade war surely help in the short term, but the payback on those loans will be a bitch for our grandkids.
It’s literally bread and circuses, and the plebes are still falling for it.
@mattbernius: The Wall Street Journal op-ed page is a joke to begin with, but Stephen Moore? the guy who wrote the book Trumponomics says Trump is great for the economy? No! 🙂
Moore is the only person I’ve ever seen who wrote an opinion piece so full of errors that the newspaper that published it said they would never publish him again.
He also said that Obama’s policies were going to cause hyperinflation. How’d that prediction turn out? 😀
In 2006 I was living in south Durham near Southpoint Mall (first Apple store I ever visited!) when the Duke lacrosse case happened. I had an engineering job in RTP literally on the other side of the tracks east of my apt. I’m quite sure that Mike Nifong himself doesn’t think about the Duke lacrosse case as much as Paul does.
And you have the nerve to tell anyone else about reality…if he is impeached and not removed, Republican senators will pay a price for allowing his bad behavior to get a pass…as for broad support, he has never had that anywhere in his political career, so I don’t see how he’ll suddenly get that if he “survives” impeachment…delusional one, disabuse thyself…
Ever since Gingrich, Rs have this communication mode that they are the triumphant winners and D’s are the pitiful losers.
That is what JKB was attempting to project. It’s basically, “Who are going to believe? Me, or your lying eyes?” He mimicked it poorly.
The perturbing thing is that it worked for awhile. No longer, though.
The emperor is not only wearing no clothes, but his ring – that they dutifully kissed – was a piece of tin foil.
This will be a 1972 wipe-out election.
Speaking of detached from reality… there is no chance of broad support for Trump.
He might win. He might even get a plurality of the vote. Or even a narrow majority.
But his negatives are so high that broad support is impossible.
Even in a world where Bernie Sanders is the nominee, and let’s his mask slip so we discover he really is one of the lizard people, and people are revolted and vote against him, and he only gets the vote of that guy who voted for Lizard Oeople in the Franken recount… even then, it won’t be support for Trump.
Personally, I’m undecided.
What type of healthcare will the Lizard People offer after enslaving humanity? And are they going to act on global warming?
If Lizard People prefer eating white folks, does that make them white supremacists?
Impeach, impeach, impeach. Impeach, impeach, impeach.
Eat a Peach
There. At least there is something of use on this pathetic place. Long live the memory of Duane Allman.
It is duly noted that you excuse treason and illegality…this makes all your whining about Obama even more pathetic…
You are trying to diminish the seriousness of the situation. It’s understandable, but not terribly adaptive or healthy.
Your chosen political party and its de facto leader are in for a substantial course correction whether you ignore or dismiss the possibility or not.
Personally, I would go into it with open eyes, but that is entirely your choice.
You do realize that JKB is better at deflection and redirecting than you are, right?
That was a poor effort.
Not sure if anybody has noticed yet, but the State IG sent an urgent request today for a next day meeting to brief committee staff on documents provided to him by the dept’s acting legal adviser. He’s set to brief staff from House Foreign Affairs, Senate Foreign Relations, House and Senate Appropriations, House Oversight, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and both House and Senate intelligence committees – tomorrow, less than 24 hours after making the request – and he’s bringing the documents with him. Putting those committees together should tell you what you need to know about what it probably concerns.
Washington being what it is, we should probably expect their content to be leaked shortly after he testifies. Stay tuned, it looks to be an enthralling day tomorrow in As the White House Turns
I had heard it was happening, but not all those details. Sounds like this is either a huge amount of damage control or a lot of damage
Yes, who doesn’t want more polluted air and more polluted water?
Here in CA, Trump is rescinding our ability to have higher/stronger emissions standards which have over 40 years resulted in less pollution per automobile, and which automakers have agreed to comply with, while at the same time his EPA Jackbooted Director is threatening to cut-off highway funding if we don’t reduce air pollution.
At least Duane, Gregg, and Berry Oakley aren’t around while our Russian Asset president is doing Putin’s bidding in the Ukraine.
Some reporter tweeted that Pompeo has asked State HR if he can discipline employees for complying with Congress.
USA Today took a poll of Republicans asking them if Trump talked to Ukraine about Biden. 60% said he didn’t.
Cognitive bias in real time.
They decided to believe their “me” instead of their lying eyes.
At least I no longer hear progressives preaching caution lest we offend the Trumpers and force them into voting for Mangolini. I mean, look at our resident Trumpers. They are like the guys who stand up at the end of every frickin’ concert and start shouting “FREEBIRD!!!!!”*
Millions of peaches
Peaches for me
Millions of peaches
Peaches for free
By, fittingly, The Presidents Of The United States Of America.
I’m moving to the country
Gonna eat me a lot of peaches
Has Supreme Leader Maxine placed Trump in his rightful place yet, solitary confinement?
That’s funny, I’ve never done that. But when did projection ever stop you?
Back to your psychotic rants.
You keep going to the same well you know is dry.
@de stijl:We call that beating the dead horse, around here.
I’m betting that either Pompeo is being thrown under the bus, or he’s using his legal adviser to throw someone else under the bus. Nothing procedural would get staff from all of those committees assembled on less than 24 hours notice. State IG is a long-term employee / Obama nominee – he has no loyalty to Trump to measure. Beyond that, he’s a long-time anti-fraud operator. If he’s requesting something this urgent, this quickly, it’s serious.
Oh yea, the documents concern Ukraine. 🙂
Watergate was a sea of silence – until somebody began to sing. After that, it resembled the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
I made a couple of calls. From what I can gather from a friend at Justice, Pompeo directed (not made inquiries to) HR and Legal to discipline any State employee who complied with a House inquiry against his orders. They both flat-out refused and went to the IG instead. The IG has already given House Dems a heads up, hence their commentary today. There is paper on that, which is PART of what the IG is bringing with him tomorrow.
They wouldn’t tell me what the rest of it concerns, and we’ve been friends since law school, so whatever else is involved, it’s pretty serious.
@HarvardLaw92: Pompeo and his ego will fit under the bus?
It couldn’t have happened to a (cough) better person.
@HarvardLaw92: Oh, to be a fly on the wall.
If that’s the case that’s serious (and would again prove that efforts to cover things up only create more problems and sometimes become the real issue).
@Jay L Gischer: “is this behavior tolerable in a president from your party?”
I see many who will probably say “yes,” especially on the GOP side.
“or from the opposition?”
This one will give you “no” all around though. Sadly, that’s the problem. Still, a circus is a nice distraction and I’m curious about what the impact of the double whammy of hard Brexit and impeachment both within days of each other will yield in bargain equity prices.
How do you know that? I don’t.
@de stijl: The worst of many bad efforts by Guarneri in the recent weeks. Sad. Pathetic. Low Energy.
Stop clubbing that baby seal.
Eliot had Drew’s number years ago:
@sam: I had a somewhat depressive roommate in grad school who thought that all poetry was crap. Prufrock changed his mind.
Everything is projection with these people:
Seems that bullying is something familiar to civil servants in this government.
Looks like HL’s source was right (or has been talking to other people):