SURIANO: Impeachment could stagnate Democrats
Column: A RINO's View
You would not believe it, but the Democrats do not like President Donald J. Trump. In fact, they want him impeached and removed from office.
They have not been shy about this from the beginning. They have thrown everything against the wall to bring up impeachment, the emoluments clause, Russian interference into the election and obstruction of justice. All of those have fallen short, but now the Democrats have a new scandal that they think will finally be the end of Trump.
Now two separate whistleblowers have come forward to accuse Trump of pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden’s son's role in a Ukrainian company in exchange for weapons sales. Let me examine if this will result in Trump's removal from office.
What is often misunderstood about the impeachment process is that is far more political than it is legal. The Congress of the United States has the power to impeach and remove Trump for whatever reason it deems fit.
So even if Trump did not violate a de jure law, he could still be impeached for an abuse of power if Congress believed it went too far.
The other misunderstood feature is impeachment does not mean Trump is removed from office. As is well known, though former President Bill Clinton was impeached for lying under oath, the Senate decided not remove him. So even if House Democrats move to impeach, the President of the Senate would have to try him and ultimately decide whether to remove Trump from office.
That being said, at this point it seems unlikely the Senate will remove Trump from office. The Senate is under Republican control and needs a two-thirds majority to remove a president.
The Democrats seem to be all in on impeachment save for perhaps the most important Democrat. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) seems to be slow-walking impeachment, as she worries it could hurt Democrats in the upcoming election.
There is reason to think she may be right, as in the 1990s when Republicans impeached Clinton, Democrats and the media made the process about his personal life and painted Republicans as puritans who were impeaching him for his sex life, despite the fact that he blatantly lied under oath.
Pelosi fears that Republicans will paint this whole process as a partisan hit job. This will put freshman Democrats in swing districts in a tough position: Break from the party and vote against impeachment angering there most passionate voters, or vote for impeachment and turn off moderate voters who elected them.
Trump's defenders can make a convincing argument that this process is a political hit job. That is because the Democrats have been arguing for impeachment from day one and everything else had failed.
Another is Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who is the congressman front, center of the process and a partisan hack. Furthermore, the whistleblower went to his committee before the proper channels and Schiff lied about it. The Republicans can make a lot of political hay of Schiff.
The only people who matter in this are Republican senators and ultimately Republican voters. If they abandon Trump, then the senators may in turn vote for removal. The only way Trump will be removed is if their jobs as senators will be in peril.
Now, you may exclaim aloud on the crowded LX as you read this: “Politics be damned! Did Trump do it or not that’s all that matters!” Well I do not know, I can not say it for you. In truth, in all these scandals involving President Trump, I have adopted a wait and see approach to the news.
More often than not these stories about Trump have collapsed given time. In a larger sense, I think we should not take impeachment lightly. It has only happened twice in the history of our nation, and with former Presidents Andrew Johnson and Clinton, both times the Senate decided not to remove them.
Former President Richard Nixon was not impeached nor removed, but indeed left office as he resigned. In this country, the people are the ultimate deciders in these matters, and I think in general we ought to leave it to them. We have an election coming up, and I think that should ultimately decide if Trump should continue in his high office.
Ultimately, I do not think Trump will be removed from office, and I give it a 50/50 chance Pelosi will impeach him. I think it is too much of a gamble for the Democrats for it could very well backfire on them as it did to Republicans in the '90s.
I think Democrats will definitely keep this in the news, but only time will tell if they impeach.
Robert Suriano is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in history. His column, "A RINO's View," runs on alternate Mondays.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article said that Lyndon B. Johnson was impeached.
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