April 29, 2019

Calls to Impeach Trump

Editor’s note: Annafi sat down with Millennial Politics’ Nathan Rubin yesterday to talk echo chambers, launching The Flip Side, and the 2020 race. Have a listen!

Last week, Democratic Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris called for the impeachment of President Trump following the release of the Mueller report. AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left is divided, with some arguing that impeachment doesn’t make sense politically, and others urging Democrats to take a stand.

Those against impeachment note that “even a successful impeachment by the House would come screeching to a halt in the Republican-controlled Senate, where chances of the constitutionally mandated two-thirds vote it would take to convict are virtually zero. The only thing the exercise would accomplish is further inflaming both the president’s political base and the opposition. What’s more, the process would probably take a year or more, during which the country would become not only more deeply divided, but thoroughly preoccupied, as anyone who was sentient during the 1998-99 impeachment saga of President Bill Clinton will recall…

There is another option: Either house, could, with a majority vote, formally censure Trump, something that has not happened to any chief executive since the Senate censured Andrew Jackson in 1834. While this would be dismissed in some quarters as merely a symbolic act, it would be a historic rebuke of the Trump presidency — and would, properly, leave it to the voters to decide whether they have had enough of it.”
Donna F. Edwards, Washington Post

“Placing Trump’s removal in the hands of 67 Senators strikes us as too procedural a remedy… Despite the scandals abroad and at home, whether we like it or can even quite explain it, Trump won the general election. His removal from office is best reserved for a similar expression of popular will in 2020… America’s infrastructure needs repair. Working Americans need better-paying jobs and better prospects for advancement. Schools need improvement, and the graduates of those schools need the promise of a more robust and inclusive economy. House Democrats should spend the coming months focusing on those needs and on making the case for why their candidate should win the White House in 2020.”
Editorial Board, Miami Herald

Those who support beginning impeachment proceedings counter that “Madison and Hamilton didn’t say anything about holding off on impeachment because it would be politically risky. It’s hard to imagine they’d put political convenience on the same footing as the security of the Constitution... The Democrats may succeed in avoiding a tumultuous, divisive fight over impeachment now. But if they choose to ignore clear abuses of the Constitution, they’ll also turn a blind eye to the precedent they’re setting and how feckless they’ll look in history.”
Elizabeth Drew, New York Times

Didn’t Republicans pay a political price for impeaching Bill Clinton in 1998? Not really. Even though Clinton was far more popular then than Trump is now — his job approval numbers held fairly steady in the mid-60s before, during and after the failed effort to oust him — and his transgression, lying under oath about sex, was minor compared to the bill of particulars against Trump, the GOP won the presidency and maintained control of both the House and Senate in the subsequent election…

“Yes, it’s possible the voting public would punish the Democrats for taking a strong stand against all the ways Trump has disregarded and trampled on the law. It’s possible a significant number of voters will say, ‘Sure, there’s massive proof that Trump is a lying, narcissistic con man and aspiring tyrant, and if the Democrats would just let it go, I’d gladly support them.’ [But] I doubt it.”
Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune

Trump's “goal, it seems, is to put so much pressure on Tehran that it has no choice but to completely change its behavior — but he could end up leading the countries to the brink of war in the process… Now is typically the time when cooler heads prevail, but it’s unclear if there are cooler heads around… It’s hard to overstate how avoidable this situation was.”
Alex Ward, Vox

“In theory, there’s no reason why a bad businessman can’t go on to become a good president. But a commander-in-chief whose signature legislative achievement expanded tax loopholes that he himself describes as grossly unfair is pretty much a bad president, by definition.”
Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

From the Right

The right opposes impeachment, and argues that it would backfire on Democrats.

From the Right

The right opposes impeachment, and argues that it would backfire on Democrats.

“If they try to drag the country through an impeachment process based on allegations that at worst put Trump in a legal gray area, but which most Americans seem to believe amount to iniquity rather than criminality, Democrats almost certainly will feel the stinging whip of a nasty political backlash… The nation’s founders surely did not intend to so destabilize the civic order in cases where guilt is a matter of gray-area interpretation rather than plainly obvious malfeasance.”
Quin Hillyer, Washington Examiner

“For two years, Trump watched as the investigation dragged on, weighing down his presidency. He had to endure being accused of ‘treason’ and crimes of ‘a size and scope probably beyond Watergate.’ He listened as members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, and former intelligence officials, led Americans to believe that they had seen secret evidence showing he had colluded with Russia — evidence he knew did not exist… The lesson of Watergate, we are told, is that the coverup is always worse than the crime. But in Watergate, there was a crime to cover up. We now know that Trump committed no crime…

“Impeachment over anything other than a conspiracy with Russia will backfire with the American people and help ensure Trump’s reelection. First, it will fail, because two-thirds of the Senate will not vote to convict the president. Second, Trump’s supporters will see an impeachment effort as an attempted coup d'état, energizing his base ahead of the 2020 election. And third, it will be seen as partisan and unfair by persuadable voters, who will not appreciate politicians second-guessing the conclusions of an impartial investigation. Want to push Trump’s approval above 50 percent? Try to impeach him.”
Marc Thiessen, Washington Post

“In terms of Donald Trump’s character and habits, there is practically nothing in the Mueller report — or in the public record since 2016 — that voters did not already know when they elected him. And that is really the fundamental argument against impeaching President Trump… a political judgment already has been rendered on Donald Trump’s character — and, if you don’t like how that came out, there’s another chance right around the corner.”
Kevin Williamson, National Review

“There is a reason why the framers of the Constitution envisioned impeachment for ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ and not as a back door to a parliamentary system, and that was to provide for a stable system of government where the voters decide who serves in office… We have an election coming up so soon that [candidates] are already holding campaign events. Why not just convince the voters to remove Donald Trump the same way they normally remove unpopular incumbents — by electing their opponents?”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

Contrast the extensive record of specific acts by President Clinton to corruptly influence ongoing legal proceedings in federal court (the Paula Jones case and the independent counsel grand jury proceedings), with the obstruction currently alleged to have been committed by President Trump… There is no legal proceeding against Trump in which he has been alleged to have corruptly acted; there is only an investigation (of collusion with Russia) by Mueller that found nothing prosecutable against the current president.”
Bob Barr, Fox News

Others posit that “the reason Kim is developing missiles that can strike Seattle or LA is that 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea… If we cannot persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in return for a lifting of sanctions, perhaps we should pull U.S. forces off the peninsula and let China deal with the possible acquisition of their own nuclear weapons by Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan…

“After an exhausting two weeks [between North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and others], one is tempted to ask: How many quarrels, clashes and conflicts can even a superpower manage at one time? And is it not the time for the United States, preoccupied with so many crises, to begin asking, ‘Why is this our problem?’”
Pat Buchanan, Townhall

Counterpoint: “after the War of 1812, President Madison… enacted the Tariff of 1816 to price British textiles out of competition, so Americans would build the new factories and capture the booming U.S. market. It worked. Tariffs [also] financed Mr. Lincoln’s War. The Tariff of 1890 bears the name of Ohio Congressman and future President William McKinley, who said that a foreign manufacturer ‘has no right or claim to equality with our own… He pays no taxes. He performs no civil duties’… [A tariff’s] purpose is not just to raise revenue but to make a nation economically independent of others, and to bring its citizens to rely upon each other rather than foreign entities.”
Patrick J. Buchanan, The American Conservative

A libertarian's take

“The scoop reflects poorly on Trump, who willfully misled the public for a decade in hopes of fraudulently representing himself as a man with a Midas touch. But he could not have succeeded without the assistance of many Americans, some mercenary, others over-credulous, who helped to spread the deceit and deception, generating countless newspaper articles, magazine stories, and TV segments that misinformed the public about the publicity hound’s record in business. New evidence of his staggering losses in that decade therefore provides an apt occasion to reflect on the media’s complicity in Trump’s brazen deceit and deception… Let [this] be a lesson for today’s tabloids, gossip columnists, over-credulous or mercenary journalists, and reality-television producers.”
Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

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