We strongly support the impeachment of President Trump. In this column I will list and explain our reasoning. The question, therefore, is not whether Mr. Trump ought to be impeached but SHOULD he be ? Opinions differ. In my mind, the Mueller report — which you can read here :
https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/politics/read-the-mueller-report/?utm_term=.c12649065162 — is a referral to Congress of findings that support, maybe even require, an impeachment proceeding. On almost every page the narrative tells of acts and notions that reek of corruption, self-dealing, mendacity, indifference to the national interest in favor of personal interests. We see that Mr,. Trump and his circle not only do not live up to their oaths of office — “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” in the words of Article 2, Section 3 — but instead either violate laws or show complete indifference to them; we see cronyism, personal gain, laziness, incompetence, waste of taxpayer dollars, total lack of secure access and communication. We see not a Presidential administration but a clique of grifters, cheaters, shamelessly selfish and almost laughably indifferent to any obligation of trust. Such an administration has no business holding office under the Constitution, and the only question is, how best to end it ?
That the Mueller report amounts to an impeachment referral requires, I think, that the debate must begin : impeachment now, or later ? Or not at all, because, as some Congresspeople have posted, the matter will be decided by the voters 18 months from now ? I think that the impeachment process must begin now. If not — if Congress decides to take a cautious view — it sacrifices its Constitutional duty at a time when the powers given to Congress by the Constitution have already been seriously vitiated by decades of accession of primary power to the executive, accessions never intended by the Framers and for very good reason, as we now see in the gigantic power claims of Mr. Trump. Holding him fully accountable, via the means expressly set forth in the Constitution, recovers significant portions of the Constitution’s framework that have been compromised over decades thanks chiefly to World War II and the long Cold War, in which the President’s powers as Commander in Chief overrode the Constitution’s normal, non-wartime system. In sum, the impeachment process must begin.
Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee — which has jurisdiction over the decision to bring a bill of impeachment — will now begin by ( 1 ) subpoena-ing the unredacted Mueller report, so that Congress can know the full details found by SC Mueller. After his committee has that document, Nadler will call Mr. Mueller to testify before his committee. He also plans to interrogate Attorney General Barr and probably others. (All of this will take time, and it will go where Nadler wants it to go : Mr. Trump might have tried to fire SC Mueller — unsuccessfully, thank goodness — but he cannot fire members of Congress. Just the reverse. Congress has power to impeach the President; the President has no such power to impeach anyone.) I would be very surprised if, after Nadler has held his hearings, and more of the Mueller report is made public, a bill of impeachment is not put to a vote of the House. If so, it will certainly be adopted and impeachment trial mangers appointed.
Though I predict this outcome, it is not certain that it is the right outcome, politically. All during the Nadler hearings, right wing media will be blasting him with sensational stories mostly half true and otherwise taken out of context and made to look scandalous. This has been right wing media’s M/O for years now, accompanied by noise and kooky stuff all over social media. Expect, too, that Russian cyber attacks — and from other rogue regimes — will muddy the mix with lies and hallucinations cleverly disguised as they were leading up to the 2016 election. In short, Nadler and his committee won’t have the news cycle to themselves. Counter-narratives will dog them every step of the way, aided and abetted by most (but not all) House Republicans, as has happened already all along. The House Democratic leadership will have to work very hard, and smartly, to maintain the initiative and to make sure that its views dominate every day of the news cycle. Given this scene, is impeachment worth the trouble ? I say yes.
There can be no avoiding the duties that await Congress. Read these lines from Rich Wilson’s latest article in The Daily Beast over and over. They’re all spelled out in the Mueller report, and they aren’t pretty :
The smart legal folks are still parsing the things that kept Mueller from charging Trump, leaving that decision to his old friend Bill Barr. What’s clear from his report is that Mueller had the goods on obstruction, but saw no way to make the case given the DOJ’s rules.
We also know, with even more certainty than we already did, that Donald Trump’s cadre of people who lie with ease and dispatch made it hard for Mueller to do his job.
This is a damning portrait of a president with almost no command of his emotions or his government, one with no compunctions about wrapping up his most loyal staffers in his lies and crimes. The portraits of this White House as madhouse from Fire and Fury to Fear to freaking Omarosa are of an administration where no one is in charge, nothing is true, and chaos rules each day. All are borne out in the special counsel’s report.
In this White House bedlam, Trump has been saved his own ineptitude—with a big assist from Bill Barr—by aides and allies just brave or afraid enough to ignore his criminal diktats.
This is where we are at. Now back to my impeachment call.
As to the argument that Mr. Trump’s fate will be decided by the voters, I agree that if he is in office on election day 2020, he will be defeated, probably by a significant margin. Anyone who is not inside his support bubble is not likely to become a supporter; his approval rating stands at 38 to 42 percent, and in most polls the question “deserves re election / time for somebody else” runs about 38 for re elect, 57 to try somebody new. I doubt these numbers will change in his favor. Obviously, defeat at the polls ends his holding the office and, by returning him to private citizenship, opens him to a host of potential criminal indictments. That would b e a just outcome, but the question of impeachment involves another scenario, one that is completely political : if Mr. Trump[ is impeached and convicted, Mr. Pence takes over; and he would certainly ask the voters to give him a chance to “right the ship.” Such a plea would not fall on deaf ears. Mr. Pence is almost the opposite of Mr. Trump ; a careful man, one who likes people and is liked by those who know him, a man of the House not unlike Gerald Ford, who acquired the Presidency after Nixon’s resignation. I can well understand why Democrats would not want Mr. Pence to take over and be able to make that plea. I share their unease with such an outcome, because Mr. Pence supports laws and policies that I do not and cannot. Nonetheless, I am uneasy with making a calculation decision about impeachment,. I don’t think that Congress can hold the people’s trust if it puts Democratic party interests ahead of upholding the Constitution and the oaths that office holders take to it. These must come first.
— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere
I agree totally with everything Mike is saying here. Even in it’s redacted form, the Mueller Report clearly documents that Trump deserves impeachment. I agree too that Pence, from a policy point of view, would be at least as bad, if not worse, than Trump, but would hope that his (Pence’s) ability to do more harm to the country would be severely reduced by lack of political power in the event of Trump’s impeachment and removal from office (which is unlikely, as things stand now). The whole impeachment process, including public congressional testimony by all of the “main actors”, would hopefully “wake up” Trump’s supporters to the idea that he’s damaged our country in multiple ways (maybe this is wishful thinking on my part), or, at least encourage Republicans in the Congress and the Senate to acknowledge that fact. At the very least, Trump’s likelihood of re-election would be lessened–if not, we’re really in trouble!