Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Impeachment now

One thing the Republican leadership in Congress like to do is schedule votes on things that have no hope of passing just to get Democrats to make what is perceived to be an unpopular vote. That's why McConnell recently scheduled a vote on the Green New Deal. He didn't want it to pass. He knew it would never pass in the Republican-controlled Senate. But he wanted to force Democrats to either vote against a proposal that is popular with a motivated core of Democratic voters, or vote for it and have that vote used against them in their next reelection fight.

In other words, Republicans know that a vote in Congress is not just a way to get legislation passed. It can also have a strategic purpose even if the legislation at issue has no hope of passage.

I don't understand why more Democrats don't view impeachment the same way. Among Democrats, the main objection to impeaching Trump is not that he did not commit an impeachable offense, it is that there is no chance of getting a conviction in the current Senate. While I think it is true the Republican Senator will not convict Trump no matter what evidence of wrongdoing is presented, the impeachment process will force McConnell to schedule a vote on each count of the impeachment question. Thus each Senator will have to go on record that they think it is okay for Trump to violate the emoluments clause, take numerous actions that would be obstruction of justice if anyone else did it, ignore Congressional oversight, etc. Every count of the articles of impeachment would have to be voted upon, All 22 Republican Senators who are facing reelection next year would be forced to go on the record on each of those issues, all would have to endorse lawlessness to defend an extremely unpopular president who a majority of the American public believes committed crimes.

I agree that unless there is a dramatic unforeseen change, Trump will not be removed from office through impeachment. I also agree that if Trump is acquitted after an impeachment trial it would set a horrible precedent. But I think that not impeaching Trump creates just as bad of a precedent. And I think there is a real political benefit for using impeachment to force Senate Republicans to vote about the crimes of this president in an election year.