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Impeachment Drive Unwise for Now

Don Rose 29 November 2017 No Comment

Let’s face it–thousands of progressives were ready to impeach Donald Trump even before he was sworn in. Truth to tell, deep down I sympathized with them–silly as the idea was.

   All through his first year in office you heard the word “impeach” more and more.  It reached a kind of crescendo in recent weeks with a heavy TV blitz by a progressive philanthropist and the introduction of articles of impeachment by six congressmen.


    It is a lot less silly, but the idea is premature, unrealistic, unwise and potentially damaging to the ultimate cause of ridding us of the president before his term expires.

   First and foremost it is simply impossible with a Republican-controlled House, regardless of the strength of the case. Even if, in a more perfect world, the House should vote to impeach, it is unimaginable at this point that the necessary super-majority of the Senate would vote to convict.

  Let’s look at the issues.

   Billionaire Tom Steyer, a hedge-fund manager, environmentalist and major Democratic fund-raiser charges  in his TV commercials that Trump has obstructed justice by firing James Comey and related actions, brought us to the brink of nuclear war and threatened freedom of the press.

  All ring true, but the most powerful case is obstruction of justice, which still requires more definitive evidence–and it’s a good bet that Special Counsel Robert Mueller III is working hard on just that issue. If he brings such a charge, whether in a call for impeachment or a possible criminal indictment, it would be airtight and gain lots more public support than Steyer’s commercials.

   Congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee along with five others–including Chicago’s very own Luis Guttierez–have filed a bill of impeachment that includes obstruction of justice, undermining the courts with his rhetoric plus violating the constitution’s emoluments clause–which forbids a president taking money or objects of value from foreign governments.

  There is an almost prima facie case on the emoluments issue given the loot he pockets from his Washington hotel and other places–but, again, Mueller can make a stronger case and seems likely to do so. That, too, would be far more convincing than a Democratic congressional initiative.

   The Cohen bill will never be called because House Speaker Paul Ryan has virtually total control of what gets a hearing and what doesn’t. If he called it, it would fail in committee. Demoralizing.

   The general public is not ready for impeachment, viewing the movement as too politically partisan. Polls, however, indicate confidence in Mueller’s professionalism and fairness. The vast middle is willing to wait.

  The danger of what looks premature and too political can ultimately hurt the very cause of those seeking Trump’s removal. No less a progressive strategist than Nancy Pelosi warns “It’s not someplace we should go.”

   Tom Steyer could perform a greater service by investing all that TV money in a campaign to help Dems win back the congress.

   The main argument against waiting for Mueller is fear of the damage Trump might do in the meantime–like tweeting us into nuclear war.

Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

image Andrew Johnson impeachment committee

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