December 9, 2019

Impeachment

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“Democratic lawmakers could vote this week on articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, the House Judiciary Committee chairman said on Sunday as lawmakers sharpened their focus on charges of wrongdoing in his dealings with Ukraine… [They] played down the possibility of basing one of the articles of impeachment on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference in 2016.” Reuters

Last week, four law professors testified about impeachment before the House Judiciary Committee. AP News

Meanwhile, “Republican lawmakers are blasting Democrats' decision to publish the records of [Congressman Devin] Nunes's calls, as well as call records from John Solomon, a conservative columnist formerly at The Hill… The report doesn't say whose records the committee subpoenaed, but the records suggest they targeted the calls of [Rudy] Giuliani and [his business associate Lev] Parnas [who was arrested in October].” Washington Post

See past issues

From the Left

The left supports impeachment, but is divided about whether the charges should only involve Ukraine or include other wrongdoing.

“Election-related bribery thwarts the very process by which voters can normally check corruption: voting the bums out… The solution to election corruption cannot be a corrupt election. Election interference by a public official must instead be met with impeachment-like removal—it’s the best way to combat the compounded corruptive threat of bribery aimed at skewing the electoral process.”
Soren J. Schmidt, The Atlantic

“When Burisma announced [Hunter] Biden’s appointment to its board in the spring of 2014, every media outlet under the sun covered the news… were Trump or congressional Republicans actually concerned about corruption in Ukraine, they had years to say something about it. That they’re only now speaking up proves perhaps as well as anything that the president’s pressure on Ukraine was about nothing but extorting a foreign country to interfere in U.S. politics for Trump’s political benefit.”
James Downie, Washington Post

“Witness after witness testified that the president held up desperately needed, congressionally approved aid to Ukraine to extort a personal political favor for himself… [It is] highly likely that Trump would be — will be — acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate, and that, rightly or wrongly, he would point to that in his reelection campaign as exoneration. But those concerns must yield to the overwhelming evidence that Trump perverted U.S. foreign policy for his own political gain. That sort of misconduct is outrageous and corrosive of democracy. It can’t be ignored by the House, and it merits a full trial by the Senate on whether to remove him from office.”
Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

“If Mr. Trump is so clear in his own mind that he didn’t try to pressure the Ukrainian government to interfere in the 2020 election, why won’t he send the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to testify under oath that there was no quid pro quo? Instead, he has issued a blanket refusal to allow officials of his administration to testify or submit documents demanded by Congress… the people clearly need to hear from material witnesses like Mr. Pompeo and the former national security adviser, John Bolton, both of whom have been said by sworn witnesses to have firsthand knowledge of whether President Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to help him win the 2020 election. Their silence is its own form of negligence toward the public’s trust.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

Many argue that “The Democrats would be wise to focus narrowly on Ukraine. Focused impeachment articles would not detract from the power of the charges against Mr. Trump. They would be more persuasive to the many Americans who hesitated to support impeachment before the Ukraine affair emerged — a group that includes Ms. Pelosi and many other top Democrats… the current impeachment process enjoys a legitimacy that it would not otherwise have if Democrats had jumped to impeach based on Mr. Mueller’s findings alone. That Ms. Pelosi resisted impeachment for so long lends credibility to the argument that Mr. Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine was not just very bad but unique and unacceptable.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

Others posit that “To make clear the full gravity of what Trump tried to do in Ukraine, Democrats need to demonstrate that it was part of a pattern… public opinion on impeachment is unlikely to move much no matter what Democrats do. Nevertheless, they’d be mad to let centrist trepidation stop them from making the strongest possible case for Trump’s removal. Doing that requires a willingness to put Trump’s Ukraine corruption in context.”
Michelle Goldberg, New York Times

“The prospect of impeaching Trump for all of his impeachable misdeeds is daunting, simply because there are so many of them. But his misconduct cannot be ignored simply for the sake of political convenience

“Polls suggest that in the partisan media landscape, many voters’ opinions have already calcified, but it remains likely that a full and public accounting of Trump’s copious wrongdoing, broadcast on television and covered in detail by the media, could change minds in a way that an abrupt party-line vote on a narrow and esoteric set of issues might not. Trump’s violations of the emoluments clause alone would probably provide enough fodder for hearings that could last well into the summer, a political and media event that might drive home to the American people the extent of his corruption and the gravity of the 2020 vote.”
Moira Donegan, The Guardian

From the Right

The right is critical of impeachment, arguing that it will be politically harmful for Democrats, and condemns Congressman Schiff’s decision to release the phone records.

From the Right

The right is critical of impeachment, arguing that it will be politically harmful for Democrats, and condemns Congressman Schiff’s decision to release the phone records.

The nation has been watching this drama over two months. How many people do you know who say, ‘You know, I was on the fence about Trump until I found out about this Ukraine thing. Now I’m convinced: He has to be impeached’? I’m betting few, if any, Americans think that way. If you believe the president should be ousted because of Ukraine, you probably thought he should be ousted before we heard about Ukraine…

“On the other hand, if you’re convinced that Trump is Trump, for good and ill; that Democrats have never come to terms with the election of a tempestuous, norm-resistant president who is unpredictable but leans right (or at least Republican) on major policy matters; and that Ukraine is just the latest case of Trump being the Trump we knew he was when the public elected him, you probably didn’t want him impeached before and don’t want him impeached now.”
Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review

“According to a new YouGov poll, net support for removing the president from office is down to two points among registered voters. Among likely voters, it’s doubtless less than that. Among likely voters in battleground states, the numbers are surely even worse for Dems. In fact, nearly as many registered voters in the poll said that Trump’s conduct towards Ukraine was no different from how presidents normally conduct foreign policy as voters who said otherwise…

“The real worry for Dems is that swing voters who took a chance on electing a Democratic House last fall will conclude that this is all Pelosi and the rest of them really care about. They hate Trump, they wanted to embarrass Trump, and that’s all they’re good for. The Do-Nothing Democrats! Better to have Republicans in charge of government since at least then they can pass stuff!”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

“Pelosi is speaker today because in 2018 Democrats were able to convince voters in 31 House districts Donald Trump carried two years before to defect and vote for them. Democrats need these voters to stay in their column in 2020 if they are to hold onto the House and win back the White House But in key swing states, large majorities of these 2018 defectors now say they plan to back Trump again in 2020… Now, Pelosi is adding to [her party’s] woes by forcing [moderate Democrats] to vote to recommend the removal of a president that voters in their districts say they plan to reelect…

“Voters in these Trump districts are already frustrated with their Democratic representatives. They won on promises to work with the president to address issues like health care, prescription drug prices, infrastructure and trade. None of that is getting done, thanks to Democrats’ focus on impeachment… while [Pelosi] can strong-arm the moderates in her caucus, she can’t strong-arm the voters in their districts. Her decision to move forward with impeachment means that many of those 31 Democrats seem destined to lose in November.”
Mark Thiessen, Washington Post

“To be effective, [the Democrats’ legal witnesses] needed to show lofty objectivity. Instead, we got hours of Pamela Karlan, a Stanford professor, who waxed rhetorical… There was also Noah Feldman, a Harvard professor, who suggested that failure to impeach Trump would mean America was a monarchy or dictatorship. The kind of monarchy or dictatorship where, er, voters will decide in less than a year whether to keep or replace the dictator, and if they keep him around, he's term-limited out of office four years after that… The fact that Democrats and the #Resistance have cited perhaps a dozen different reasons to impeach Trump makes it clear to reasonable people (including those who think Trump behaved inappropriately) that Ukraine is just the latest stretch justification for an unwavering determination to destroy the president.”
Hugo Gordon, Washington Examiner

Regarding the release of the phone records, “if your position is that former Hill columnist John Solomon was smearing former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and pushing a flawed Ukraine narrative, feel free not to read his work anymore. Feel free, in fact, to make a case that his work is conspiratorial rubbish. But Solomon isn’t under criminal investigation for bad journalism, and he wasn’t a witness in the inquiry. It’s none of Schiff’s business whom Solomon speaks to over the phone. He is free to call Lev Parnas, or whomever else he pleases, as often as he pleases… what possible national-security concerns would justify unmasking [these calls]?”
David Harsanyi, National Review

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

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