Impeach Donald Trump? Obstruction of justice is a crime. The decision is clear. (The New York Times link): The Mueller report has been released, with redactions of course, and it is a damning document. Not only does it detail Russian efforts to attack our election to help the Trump campaign and the Trump campaign’s eager acceptance of that help, it paints a picture of Donald Trump as an unethical man with no regard for the rule of law.
The question is: What are we going to do about it? Obstruction of justice is a crime. If Trump committed that crime, he’s a criminal. Are we simply going to allow a criminal to sit in the Oval Office and face no consequence? Are we simply going to let the next presidential election be the point at which Trump is punished or rewarded?
It is maddening to think that we are at such a pass. But, my mind is made up: I say impeach him.
I know all the arguments against.
But, I say that there is no such thing as a failed impeachment. Impeachment exists separately from removal. Impeachment in the House is akin to an indictment, with the trial, which could convict and remove, taking place in the Senate. The Senate has never once voted to convict.
So, an impeachment vote in the House has, to this point, been the strongest rebuke America is willing to give a president. I can think of no president who has earned this rebuke more than the current one.
Then there is the idea that an impeachment would be contentious and increase public support for Trump the way it did for Bill Clinton.
But I find the conflation of Clinton and Trump ill-reasoned on the issue of the public’s response in polling.
First, Clinton’s approval was subject to change in a way Trump’s is not. Clinton experienced a 40-point swing in his approval over his presidency, according to Gallup. Trump’s seems almost impervious to change, no matter the news.
Furthermore, Clinton jumped 10 points, from 63 percent 73 percent, just after the House voted to impeach him. But, five month later, those gains had vanished and then some. His approval rating sank to 53 percent. I’m tired of all the fear and trepidation.
Senate Republicans are worried about getting on the wrong side of the Republican base.
But, will that sickness give birth to action? No, if the last two years is our guide. This is the strongest statement among Republican senators, but it is as toothless as a baby’s mouth. This admonition is idle. House Democrats, at least the leadership, are afraid of looking like they have a blood lust and inadvertently increasing Trump’s chances of re-election.
Furthermore, the massive — and growing — amount of campaign spending will drown out anything that happened months prior. In 1996, Clinton raised $42 million for his re-election bid; in 2012, Obama raised a billion for his.
And finally, there was no President Trump in the 1990s producing a head-scratching number of headlines each day. Trump can’t ride a victory nor will he be crestfallen in defeat. There would likely be untold new outrages even after an impeachment.
On Friday, Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote on Twitter that “the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States.”
In another tweet she explained: “To ignore a President’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways.”
I worry that inaction enshrines that idea that the American president is above America’s laws. I worry that silent acquiescence bends our democracy toward monarchy, or dictatorship.
As Thomas Paine wrote in 1776, “In America the law is king.” He continued: “For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.”
Who will we let be king in this country, the president or the law?