As days have passed since the release of the Mueller report, the public and Democratic support for impeachment has risen but still faces strong opposition from some Democratic politicians and some Democratic voters who worry that impeaching Trump could help Trump in the 2020 elections and sour voters on Democrats.

For Democrats who are anti-impeachment, it seems safer and ultimately effective to avoid the unknown blowback from impeachment and keep the dynamics that are currently in place, where Trump is now at around 39% support and most Democrats running for the nomination are favored to beat Trump.

However, there are two flaws in that proposition. First of all, dynamics are constantly changing in election campaigns, harmful revelations strategically released about a candidate and mud slinging are the norm. Candidates can say something or have said something in the past that suddenly arises to haunt them in their campaign. And sometimes the opposing candidate, especially with the powers of the White House in his hands, can manipulate events to boost himself and cut the legs out from under his opponent.

The bottom line is, things change. Just because the current slice of time is favorable to Democrats, that doesn’t mean that trying to avoid doing anything that could change things will work out favorably.

And an even more instructive lesson in life is that doing something or nothing out of fear only allows bad things to flourish.

Democrats opposing impeachment also point to the impeachment of Bill Clinton and his subsequent rise in the polls during that to point out their concerns of how it could help Trump. This is partnered with the concern that if The House impeached Trump but Republicans continue to protect him in The Senate and don’t vote to remove him, that Trump will look vindicated and garner greater support. Some have said, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, what’s the point of impeaching if the Senate won’t support it?

Lastly, Democrats who don’t support impeachment essentially express that as long as Trump is removed in the 2020 elections, the hoped-for results in impeaching him would come about anyway so it’s not an abdication of constitutional responsibility, just a smarter path to it.

Here are the counter-arguments I offer to fellow Democrats leaning against impeachment.

SEVEN REASONS TO IMPEACH DONALD TRUMP

1. Political strategy is not a reason to ignore constitutional responsibility.

Article II, Section 4 of The Constitution of the United States of America:

“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

As responsibilities and assignments of power are reflected in The Constitution, this section uses the word “shall”. Not “can” or “could”, it requires Congress to act. The Founders indisputably intended for Congress to be the check, balance and cop on the beat when it came to The President.

If a policeman witnessed The Chief of Police commit a heinous crime, would we see it as responsible if he decides not to arrest or help convict him but simply assure others that he will compete against him to hopefully take his office away sometime in the future? Is that what the law allows or intends? Or would the policeman be in trouble for rationalizing away his legal duty?

Let’s be clear, The Congress is imbued with the responsibility of law enforcement by having impeachment powers. Only they can “arrest” a criminal president. It is not an option, it is a constitutional duty, to be exercised on behalf of the Americans people. Morphing the responsibility of impeachment into the end results of the next election is not what The Founders instructed Congress to do in such a serious situation.

2. Democrats need to display respect for The Constitution and their powers under it.

Nothing would make Trump happier than for Democrats in Congress to give up portions of their constitutional power over him. Or to see Democrats validate that The Constitution’s laws are optional. Refusing to impeach when Mueller’s report documents multiple criminal acts of obstruction of justice by Trump, is ripping up authority and power from the Constitution.

In light of the GOP under Trump standing for lies, deceit, prejudice, anti-American and criminal acts, the Democrats should retain the high moral ground and put ethics above political maneuvering. Country first, before party. Democrats have hurled that sentiment at Republicans for years, it’s time they put their impeachment power where their mouths and constitution are.

3. An impeachment is an investigation, it does not require the removal of a president to be worthwhile.

A frequent argument against impeachment is that Republicans in The Senate won’t allow a 2/3 vote for removal of Trump to succeed so what’s the point of starting impeachment? With that logic, why prosecute any criminals who commit racist crimes in communities where many people are racists? Law enforcement shouldn’t be conditional, based solely on the assumed outcome of a trial. It’s about doing the right thing regardless of the eventual outcome.

The first misunderstanding in this proposition is that impeachment is a predetermined decision of guilt that fails if a conviction isn’t won. Impeachment begins in The House as an investigation, held very publicly so the nation knows what crimes are being alleged against a president (or other government official) and the evidence and defense involved.

Impeachment hearings DO NOT require that The House votes to impeach a president. They could hold such hearings then fail to get enough votes to impeach or end the impeachment hearings before completion if it appears moot.

4. Nixon’s polling was better than Trump’s when the Watergate hearings began

Democrats who are concerned say that a majority of the public needs to be brought along first before even considering impeachment. This seems upside-down. What will move public opinion towards supporting impeachment is the public broadcast and investigation of the crimes Trump has committed, including obstruction of justice.

The Mueller Report came out, redacted as it was, yet still described the grounds for many crimes that would likely have been charged if Trump wasn’t in the White House. The public did register that and disapproval of Trump rose while approval declined. This is the proof in the pudding. As more public revelations condemning Trump’s criminal behavior come out, the public moves against him.

Democrats should know that in an impeachment hearing, all the evidence and testimony that would come out and inundate the public will be very negative for Trump and affirm the legitimacy and necessity of impeachment hearings. We know this because we have the public response to the Mueller Report confirming this. Trump could not be declared exonerated on committing crimes by a two year investigation, impeachment hearings won’t contradict that, just strengthen it.

And as hearings provide a more conducive, entertaining method of the public learning details about Trump and his crimes, as opposed to Mueller’s report which few in the public have read fully, the public would be better brought along to support impeachment. It’s very difficult to imagine how impeachment hearings would lead to less support when we know the facts are more damning than most people know.

Here is a graphic which illustrates not only how Nixon was more popular than Trump when the Watergate hearings began but how impeachment gained support with Americans as the case against Nixon was televised.

Just weeks before the Watergate hearings began on May 17th, 1973, Nixon still stood at a 48% approval rating with only 40% disapproval. In contrast, with it being weeks before The House begins non-impeachment Watergate-style hearings, Trump is at 39.9% approval and 53.9% disapproval. So does anyone think televised hearings will make those numbers turn more favorable for Trump?

And here’s an interesting nugget from Gallup polling that year:

Yet, despite the increasingly negative views of Nixon at that time, most Americans continued to reject the notion that Nixon should leave office, according to Gallup. Just 26% thought he should be impeached and forced to resign, while 61% did not.

Now a nugget from an ABC News/WAPO poll from just last week:

Overall, a majority of Americans oppose impeachment with only 37 percent saying they favor starting the process and 56 percent saying they oppose the idea. Unsurprisingly, support for impeaching President Trump is divided along partisan lines.

You see where I’m going here. Nixon had higher approval numbers and impeachment of him was less popular than it is in the case with Trump. With a provably criminal president, televised exposure of the case against him is exactly how the public support for impeachment grows, it is self-justifying.

5. Donald Trump is not Bill Clinton.

Some Democrats express that they worry that Trump could receive the same popularity bump that Bill Clinton received when he was impeached. With all due respect, such a proposition is devoid of historical context and it is a bit surprising that some Democrats would so easily equate Clinton with Trump.

Here’s a poll taken just after The House filed articles of impeachment against Clinton which also shows polling just before that:

Interviews with 852 adult Americans were conducted December 19-20 [1998], after the House of Representatives voted to impeach Clinton.
Do you approve of the way Bill Clinton is handling his job as president?

Now       Dec. 15-16

Approve         73%      63%
Disapprove    25%      33%

Should your senators vote to remove Clinton from office?

Yes  29%
No  68%

Bill Clinton did experience a positive bump in the polls after being impeached but that was in line with a wide majority of the public already favoring him before impeachment and not supporting impeachment for lying about having an affair, something that most Americans appeared to regard as inconsequential to his effectively fulfilling the duties of president.

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Trump’s approval/disapproval stands as of four days ago at 39.9% approval and 53.9% disapproval while impeachment of Trump is supported by 37% and opposed by 56%. These are worse numbers than Nixon’s and far worse than Clinton’s yet both of them were impeached. Clearly, Trump is not Clinton and it is truly inconceivable of any but his loyal Kool-Aid drinkers having sympathy for Trump if he was impeached and exposed as having allied with an enemy country to corrupt this and probably 2020’s election, committed financial crimes and obstructed justice.

6. Even if Trump is not removed, impeachment hearings would damage him and the GOP even more in 2020

Democrats only control the House so seeing how slavish Republicans have been, it’s unlikely to think two-thirds of The Senate would vote to remove Trump if the House has impeached him. However, having all of Trump’s dirty, criminal laundry aired in televised, must-watch impeachment hearings in The House, will leave Trump even more damaged and unpopular in the 2020 elections. So if The House impeaches him and the voters are the ones who remove him after seeing those hearings, the impeachment hearings work in removing him de facto.

Add to this, Republicans in Congress will be forced to vote in The House and The Senate on impeaching and removing Trump. As public opinion of Trump craters, the cultish Republicans trying to defend him will then also be damaged in the 2020 elections. They will be hammered by Democratic opponents as being the lap-dogs who abandoned their oath to protect our country to protect a criminal instead purely for reasons of power and getting re-election.

7. Trump could win re-election anyway

As Billy Crystal said in his impression of Edward G. Robinson in The Ten Commandments, “Myah, where’s your messiah now, Moses?”

If Democrats were to shrug off their constitutionally-mandated responsibility of impeachment of a criminal president due to political expediency, because they simply thought it was in their best political interests to put all their eggs in the basket of the 2020 election results, our constitution would be severely damaged as would their credibility to exercise other constitutional power over an even more emboldened criminal president.

Trump is trying to tear up the constitutional power of Congress to exercise oversight of government. He has given aid and comfort to adversarial countries and dictators, even those who have attacked our elections and assassinated one of our journalists. He has obstructed justice at every turn, firing those trying to keep America under the rule of law while demeaning and portraying our entire intelligence community as enemies. He has lied and deceived the people over 10,000 times. He has aggressively supported racism, bigotry and the abuse of non-white immigrants.

If Democrats in Congress can rationalize how this and even more despicable behavior of a president should not trigger impeachment because of the political risk, what madness would await the country in a second Trump term when he would feel emboldened to commit any horrible act without fear of consequence?

Impeachment is a necessary tool to prevent a corrupt autocrat who wields power over this country, from taking even worse actions in the future, whether it’s Trump or a future president. If there are no boundaries now, there may not be any left in the future when they’re even more desperately needed.

Country before re-election. Our democracy can’t be gambled with, hoping an election that won’t occur for 19 months will resolve an urgent threat to this nation. And if dereliction of duty to our constitution doesn’t deliver the presidency to Democrats…will any one of them be able to face the prospect of a fearless, unleashed Trump in power until 2024 with the words, “We did everything we could to prevent this”?

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Rashaad Hadee
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Rashaad Hadee

I am for impeaching the current occupant of the White House based upon the Mueller Report and his press conference. I do not believe that this will rile up his base because they’re 100% supportive of him. He also has the highest approval ratings of Republicans. An impeachment inquiry should start immediately. They should also conduct public hearings.

Independents and Democrats make up a larger percentage of the electorate than Republicans. The only way that this could truly back fire if the Democrats cannot pull enough of their own electorate and Independents to win in 2020. If that is the case, the Democrats have failed the people and don’t understand how to win the Electoral College.

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Lizzeee
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I have been against impeachment, much for the same reasons that Pelosi has been against it. I understand what she is saying about how he has been trying to “goad,” the Democrats into it. I still think that’s true, but maybe we should just give him what he wants before he burns the place down.

I have trouble getting enthusiastic about anything unless it gets him out of the White House and I do not relish the thought of Mike Pence taking his place.

Congress has to do their job, it would be irresponsible for them not to impeach. I have no doubt that they would the vote in the House. As far as the Senate, it is something to be laid at their feet and I hope that it is. He isn’t Bill Clinton, nor is he even Richard Nixon; they both had enough respect for the office to continue to do their jobs.

Trump has never done his job. I don’t think he even knows what his job is and if he did, I’m sure it wouldn’t suit him.

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escribacat
Member

Warren made a succinct and intense case for opening and impeachment inquiry at her town hall. 1) We were attacked by Russia and their goal was to help elect Trump; 2) Trump welcomed the help; 3) TrumpCo did everything they could to obstruct the investigation into the attack.

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Kimtech
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Kimtech

Great writing, points well taken. I’m of the camp to impeach if not for just the result but for getting these folks who’ve so far been able to steer clear of public scrutiny in the form of televised hearings, on the stage and under oath. Hicks, McGahn, Don Jr., Ivanka, Kelly, Sanders, Conway and oh so much more. People will call it sensationalist TV, but, they’ll watch while whining about it. And we all know the force of the visuals, it’s reach and sway is worldly. So yep, impeach Barr AND tRump.

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Lizzeee
Member

I agree. Barr can be impeached and even prosecuted. I am not too thrilled with Rosenstein, either. I would prefer to expand that FBI investigation and find out why the FBI supported that Benghazi crap after it became clear, there was little to investigate. Maybe we could find out why it’s okay for team Trump to use their private email in the same way Hillary did.

I would like to know why Gowdy was allowed to maintain his seat on the Ethics Committee after he tampered with evidence.

I would love to know how mich Russian money McConnell continues to take. Trump is not the only problem, by a long shot. He has not done any of this alone.

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Jake321
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Jake321

Here’s the Nate Silver interactive model from 2016. It’s still working but the basic data has not been updated yet. Fun to play with. First test is to input the actual 2016 vote by demographic and see how close the results match the election outcome. Then look for what we might do and what the Trumpites might do as a rough first take on 2020.

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-swing-the-election/

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kampers
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kampers

The Shall be removed only applies if the President is Impeached and impeachment is a two-part process. The Senate won’t vote to impeach or convict. The constitution does not say we Shall Impeach. It says that if the President is impeached fully the President shall be removed from office. That is my first point and I will continue to read the other 6 reasons for impeachment. But saying that it says that the Congress shall impeach is getting it backward. You have to impeach before you have to remove the president. That is what the word Shall is talking about.

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Jake321
Member
Jake321

And there is just one really really good reason not to Impeach at this time. It will likely gain us no votes and will more than likely gain Trump lots of votes. It will very likely help Trump and the Republicans win. If they do, kiss all those fine basic principles goodbye.

Look where we are after only two and a half years with Trump and him now accelerating his consolidation of power with attacks on all our basic institutions. Obviously with a clear goal to have sovereign immunity and rule as a king, emperor or dictator. Nothing is worth the risk of him remaining in office for several more years. NOTHING. Unless it can be absolutely shown that Impeachment will get him out or cost him the election (or a stroke or heart attack) the risk is not worth it.

But the indications are the opposite. The mass of the voters don’t want what they see as the distraction of Impeachment. They know that it will suck up all the political oxogen. Near nothing else will be done. No bread and butter issues will be dealt with. The beacon will not be brought home. It will totally eclipse our other issues and totally absorb our candidates in the Primaries and then in the General.

It will not motivate more of our base to vote but will motivate the Trumpites. And it won’t just be the voting Trumpites who feel an existential threat against their God-Emperor but more importantly all the ones who usually don’t vote but will. They know this is their last hurrah demographically and they love that their middle finger occupies the White House. They will likely swarm out of the rotten woodwork to counter what they will see as a Deep State Coup aimed at chopping off their middle fingers which they are quite attached to. They will have the motivation of a cornered animal given the demographics. And by the numbers, there are some 15 million of these potential voting Trumpites and they are concentrated in the swing Electoral College States.

Also, it is getting clearer all the time that the folk are getting sick and tired of all the drama and excitement. They want to take a rest for awhile. Why the hell do you think comfy cuddly Unky Joe is doing so well? Note, virtually all the added support he got on announcing his run came from the supposed hot to fight the great Progressive fight of the Bernie supporters. Half of the Bernie supporters also want a rest. Got that? And Impeachment offers anything but a rest.

Now, if say, it gets to a place where Trump plays Andrew Jackson and tells the courts up to and including the SCOTUS to “F” themselves, things could change. Lots of Republicans and a majority of the public might finally just say enough is enough. Impeach and maybe even remove the SOB, one way or another, to try to get some peace and quite.

But at this time, jumping off the cliff on principle isn’t too appealing to me…and thankfully, that is how Pelosi and the overwhelming majority of Dems in Congress see it. This is very much in keeping with how the bulk of the great middle who usually determine the election see it…

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Bill Samuel
Guest

I don’t agree with your interpretation of the Constitutional clause. The “shall” refers to conviction. I don’t see any requirement to impeach and convict if a President is guilty of any of the indicated offenses (and “high crimes and misdemeanors” is a very general phrase that could be construed many different ways). So I don’t think the Constitutional language at all indicates that the Congress should not consider the feasibility of removal and the political consequences of using the impeachment process. Starting an impeachment process is never required by the Constitution.

I know of no solid evidence at this time that the President has committed treason or bribery in office. High crimes and misdemeanors means whatever a majority of the House and 2/3 of the Senate believe it means. Currently, it is clear that nowhere near 2/3 of the Senate, and probably not even a majority, considers the President’s misdeeds to be “high crimes and misdemeanors.” This makes Speaker Pelosi’s position that moving forward with impeachment at this time would not make sense, but the Congress should be prepared to move forward with it should additional evidence make removal from office a reasonable possibility.

The normal Congressional investigation process can and is being used to find out more information on the President’s misdeeds. This is a much less disruptive process for that purpose than the impeachment process. If that process uncovers evidence which could result in bipartisan support for impeachment and removal, the impeachment process could be started.

We are over half way through the current Presidential term. The impeachment process takes a long time, and probably could not be completed until the President had no more than a few months left in office. This would seem to make removal by denying reelection more practical than an impeachment process which seem unlikely to result in removal at this time and will inflame Trump’s constituency and possibly increase his chances to be re-elected.

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TOCB
Member

ANYONE with an ounce of integrity and prudence and is paying attention, can see that Trump committed treason and that the republican party aided and abetted him in doing so. You are correct that the Senate is unlikely to convict and remove Trump from office. That is a foregone conclusion. Not because there are no justifiable reasons, but because republicans would not convict him if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue, as evidenced by the FACT that in spite of evidence that MBS had Khashoggi killed, Trump and his minions are making excuses for him. The republican Senate knows this, but they don’t care.

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MurphTheSurf3
Editor

A brief reply.

Much of what you say is true in principal. Here is my concern. Will the public pay attention to what is actually going on? Much of your argument depends on the public being aware of what is happening, viewing it objectively, weighing its import and drawing a conclusion that is evidence based.

I do not see that happening. For many reasons.

It is based on my belief that I want the Congress and various judiciary entities to probe and to act on each probe and not create a massive diversion that Trump will use very effectively to rouse his base, frustrate his foes and confuse those in the muddled middle.

Take this:
President Trump’s approval rating reached its highest level since April 2017 in a new CNN poll released Wednesday. The poll found 43% approved of the way Trump is handling his job as president. The new tally is one point lower than his 44% approval rating two years ago. Those who approve strongly of the way Trump is handling his job hit an all-time high of 35% in the CNN poll.

I think the only thing taking him down is concerted, full throttle, frontal assault.

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