It is difficult for me to understand the argument made by many Democrats and liberals for moving forward to impeach President Trump. Whether he warrants it or not, it is the definition of futility, flies in the face of public opinion, and has the potential to undermine their ultimate goal: Get Trump out of office.
Anyone who thinks there is even a remote possibility of 20 Republican senators voting to convict Trump and remove him from office is under the influence of something substantially stronger than marijuana.
It is highly doubtful that Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, or Mitt Romney of Utah would vote to convict. But even in the highly unlikely possibility that all three did, where are the other 17 needed, assuming all 47 Democrats went that direction? Even with the most compelling evidence in the world—substantially more than we have today—there is no chance that two-thirds of the Senate would do so.
Public opinion on this issue is pretty straightforward. Most people disapprove of the job that Trump has done, which nearly every major poll has shown for the entirety of his presidency. But with only 17 months to go before the next election, the public does not want to remove him from office through impeachment. A May 28-31 CNN national poll of adults showed 41 percent favoring impeachment and removal from office and 54 percent opposing it, which were better numbers for the pro-impeachment side than most other polls have found.
Some seem to ignore the all-consuming nature of the impeachment process. Even if they think it’s unlikely to undermine their chances of beating Trump in November, perhaps these advocates should at least consider the possibility that it gives him the foil he needs for the battle.
So why do they persist? The answer, of course, is that many Democrats and liberals despise Trump so thoroughly that it has clouded their judgement, just as a similar hatred among Republicans and conservatives toward Bill Clinton affected theirs 20 years ago. Emotion and logic are not two things that typically go hand-in-hand.
The House Democrats who have come out in favor of impeachment reflect the base of the party, but not many rank-and-file members and certainly not those freshmen who gave them the majority have done the same.
Using the list compiled by NBC News of House members who have come out in favor of starting an impeachment inquiry, the average 2018 election percentage for the 52 Democrats was 74.1 percent. Only two, Reps. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey and Chellie Pingree, of Maine won with margins less than 20 points, and only nine serve in districts that have a Cook Political Report Partisan Voting Index with a Democratic advantage of less than 10 points. Only Malinowski, Kathleen Rice of New York, and Greg Stanton of Arizona represent districts that could remotely be called competitive.
Many of the 52 no doubt have a majority in their districts who favor impeachment, but for all but a handful, this move is hardly one to qualify for an addendum to the next edition of Profiles in Courage.
There are those who believe that Trump sincerely hopes House Democrats will impeach him, since he’d almost certainly lose an election that is simply a referendum on him and his tenure in the White House. He does likely need to change the venue—for the election to be about something else, such as a Democratic cabal trying to subvert the democratic process and the will of the people, and nullify the 2016 election. I’m not sure that would work, but it beats the alternative.
Regardless, do pro-impeachment Democrats think it would be easier to beat Vice President Mike Pence? And do they want to remove Trump from the White House, or just exact revenge on him?
There is one solution I have yet to hear from Democrats but would seem pretty obvious. First, defeat Trump in November 2020 and do it by a convincing margin, one that he cannot dispute or claim was stolen from him and that he could not contest. Then, after he leaves office on January 20, 2021, appoint a legal eminence, preferably a prominent Republican lawyer or jurist, possibly someone who served in one of the last two pre-Trump Republican administrations of George H.W. Bush or George W. Bush, to serve as a special counsel for the sole purpose of deciding whether allegations against Trump warrant indictment with a reasonable chance of conviction—and if so, do it.
For the most bitter Trump-haters, what could be sweeter than watching him fight to stay out of jail and possibly not succeeding in that? It circumvents the constitutional concerns of prosecuting a sitting president—as Robert Mueller cited the Justice Department’s long-standing policies against it—and it offers those who loathe Trump the pound of flesh they seek.
The argument against this course of action is that it doesn’t provide the immediate gratification that starting proceedings now would. But it makes more sense than hastily moving to impeach.