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I'm a Convert to Impeachment

4 min read

I have been reluctant to push for impeachment up til now, on the grounds that, since the Senate would never convict, it’s a fruitless exercise which might well help Trump and the GOP. I’ve changed my mind, for a number of reasons:

  • 1. I haven’t read the full Mueller report, but I have read bits of it, as well as the analyses. It is clear that the only reason Trump wasn’t charged with conspiracy with the Russians is because he obstructed, and instructed others to obstruct, the investigation into that conspiracy. And the only reason he isn’t currently under indictment for that and other obstructions is because Mueller felt bound by the DOJ opinion (not settled law) that they cannot indict a sitting president. And Mueller all but stated openly that this means Congress is responsible for rectifying the situation, through impeachment (which is, after all, an indictment).
  • 2. All his life, Trump has tried to get around the law. He was restrained from carrying out many (not all) of his worse impulses by his inexperience at the job and by staff who decided their ultimate loyalty was to the Constitution (and/or their reputations), not to him. He has dealt with those restraints by firing those staff (while denying that they ever hindered him) and by learning more about the tools at his disposal. Plus is losing whatever small restraints were imposed on him by tradition and perception.
  • 3. Trump is even now committing new acts of obstruction with his demands that no one who ever worked for him, worked in his administration, handled his finances (and perhaps soon, anyone who ever mentioned him by name) comply with any Congressional request or subpoena. (Explanations of why this is legally unsupportable have been provided by many others, so I will not repeat them here.)
  • 4. Trump, unmindful of his high oath of office to defend the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic, is weakening national security by leaving many essential security posts unfilled, by disbanding cybersecurity departments, and most importantly, by refusing to do anything about proven Russian interference in our past election and its proven intent to do so again.
  • 5. Trump, unmindful of his oath to uphold the Constitution, has violated and continues to violate the emoluments clause which prohibits him from accepting moneys from any foreign source.

I am sure there are other crimes he should be charged with, but this list is sufficient for my purposes — which is to state a case for impeachment and removal from office.

That’s the policy. About the strategy and tactics:

The all but certain reality that the Senate will not convict is no longer something I consider an argument against impeachment. Impeachment is, as I said above, an indictment, and it lays out (or had better lay out) in clear, straightforward language, the crimes Trump has committed and is committing and the damage he has done and continues to do to our republican form of government (yes, that word is deliberately chosen), to the rule of law, and to security and continued existence (never mind prosperity) of the United States. The impeachment hearings will be televised and the country will be incapable of looking away (even Fox News will have to talk about it). Further, every Republican will have to go on record one way or the other.

(There has been speculation that McConnell will try to prevent an impeachment trial in the Senate, much as he refused to give Merrick Garland a hearing. He has no legal or Constitutional leg to stand on here, and if he does try it, much of the country will erupt against him.)

A number of posts here have decried Speaker Pelosi for not pushing for impeachment. I think (ok, I hope, but I have good reason to hope) they are mistaken. In order for impeachment to be taken seriously (whether or not it succeeds in the Senate), a majority of the country has to be convinced it is necessary. The country wasn’t there before the Mueller report, but it is heading in that direction now. (In a comment on another post, I compared it to a pot that has to come to a simmer before it can come to a boil. We are now at simmer and getting hotter.) The Speaker is certainly encouraging all the investigations and working with them, and will clearly fight Trump’s attempt to quash the subpoenas. She is, I am convinced, playing the long game — and yes, she is aware that Trump is hoping to run out the clock. Speaking of clocks, the Speaker has cleaned Trump’s clock (disgusting as that has to sound) several times already, so don’t get upset just because she hasn’t been obvious about it this time yet.

Finally, despite warnings (distractions?) from the right-wing noise machine and their hand-wringing toadies, impeachment is NOT likely to help Trump and the GOP. Those who could be swayed by the argument that it’s all a political game (as if that were a disqualifier, or that the Republicans would never dream  of doing such a thing), or who might be convinced that Trump is being persecuted, those votes are already lost. The votes we need to stir up are the less committed, the apathetic, the ones who have swallowed the line (perhaps with Russian vodka to wash it down) that their votes don't matter. Seeing Trump’s crimes and dangers laid out in clear, and watching Republicans make fools of themselves trying to defend him, will help rally the multitudes.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Martin Luther King

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