Editor's Brief

Delving Deeper Into the Mechanics and Debate Over Impeachment

Donald Trump Jerrold Nadler Judiciary Committee subpoena
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June 5, 2019 9:41 am

As usual, TPM Readers followed up with a flood of smart and often heated emails in response to my post yesterday on impeachment. I’m going to publish a number of them today and respond serially to points I should expand on or clarify as well as address new ones. The note below from TPM Reader JC gets into the point of just what we’re talking about when we talk about impeachment. I’ll address that and another point first.

Let me start with a concession. Yesterday I referred to moving immediately to impeachment as “silly” and “a waste of time”. Unsurprisingly this focused a lot of people’s attention. I took this as hyperbole. But it doesn’t give the seriousness of the question its due. Nor does it help persuade anyone to belittle something they feel so strongly about. Equally important, I’m not against impeachment. I simply think it’s a weapon that is more powerful in reserve than in use, at least until there’s more than a non-trivial or even conceivable chance of Trump being removed from office.

Now on to the question JC raises. Relatively few people I talk to say House Democrats should vote articles of impeachment literally today. In most cases they mean starting an impeachment inquiry today, which they argue will strengthen the House’s hands before the courts (I think this is wrong), up the ante politically, focus the public’s attention and is just the right thing to do. At some level the argument is, why not? You advance the ball and don’t have to really commit to anything.

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