More on Impeachment

TPM Reader JB on the impeachment question…

I’ll bet you’ve been inundated with….comments, let’s call them, about your take on Pelosi negative remarks toward impeaching the President we have now.

Impeachment, of course, is a political process. It’s also a process used so infrequently that assessing its political impact cannot be reliably done. Preparing impeachment proceedings would be a considerable undertaking for the House; they would need to rest on findings of several committees now investigating Trump for various things, plus Mueller’s. And there is every reason to think that Senate Republicans, regardless of the facts uncovered or the charges against Trump, will spare no effort to remain loyal to their Leader.

Pelosi could always have said that Describe the situation and hold the door open for developments to take their course. I don’t know why she didn’t. It seems inevitable to me that she’ll be represented — and not unfairly — as having flip-flopped under pressure from the “radical left” if impeachment proceedings begin, and having blocked impeachment proceedings if they don’t.

It’s possible to overthink this question. It’s surely logical to think beginning impeachment proceedings will have political consequences. We don’t know what they will be, and we don’t really know how to know. Even if we did, we’d first have to answer the question: is impeachment called for in the situation we face now, or isn’t it?

We’re not facing today a President entering upon the office after an assassination, and pursuing policies so different from his murdered predecessor that his party sought any pretext to remove him from office. Nor do we have a President who gave daylight through his questionable morals for an impeachment proceeding conducted in egregious bad faith.

What we face today is the very situation for which impeachment was included in the Constitution, namely high crimes and misdemeanors: flagrant corruption, abuse of office, the national security put at risk by the President. Less harm would have been done to the country and the future of its system of government if the House Judiciary Committee had voted to just let the whole Watergate affair slide, than it would for Congress to shrink from its duty now.

The timing of impeachment proceedings can be argued; I don’t believe their necessity can be. Not impeaching Nixon would have meant condoning a President’s use of federal agencies to obstruct an investigation. Not impeaching Trump would mean condoning conspiracy with Russia to interfere in federal elections; conspiracy with Saudi Arabia to direct American foreign policy in exchange for financial favors done for the President and his family; use of the Presidency for self-enrichment; and a President’s use of federal agencies to obstruct an investigation.

It may well be that Republican Senators will stand united in saying we should condone all those things, plus the racism and the incompetence and everything else Trump is known for. Let them make that choice when the time comes. Not all crises can be avoided. This is one that cannot be without grave risk to the country’s future.

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