27 December 2017

The impeachment decision

If Democrats win House and Senate majorities in November, a large part of our base will want to see them begin impeachment of Trump immediately.  The grounds for doing so are certainly more than adequate already.  But the decision must be made based on the likelihood of success.  Specifically (if frustratingly), it must depend on how many Republicans in the Senate can be persuaded to go along.

The House can pass articles of impeachment by a simple majority, but conviction and removal would take 67 votes in the Senate.  It's mathematically impossible for Democrats to achieve 67 Senate seats next year -- there aren't enough Republican-held seats up for election.  So unless the necessary number of Republicans were at least fairly likely to join the Democrats in voting for conviction, impeachment would be an empty gesture, which everyone would know in advance would not remove Trump.

Even those among the public who fervently want to see Trump gone would probably see that refraining from such a doomed effort would be wise.  Pursuing impeachment with no chance of success would allow Trump to declare exoneration and would make it harder to remove him at a later time when enough Senate Republicans had come around (say, if he made some blunder even they couldn't tolerate, or if Mueller's final report condemned him) and would vote for conviction after all.  The effort would lose credibility if we’d already tried it and failed a couple of months earlier.  A premature impeachment could actually make it harder to eventually get rid of Trump.  It would leave him not only in power, but strengthened.

The key factor will likely be Mueller’s final report. If it's damning enough, it could sway some Republicans to support impeachment.  If it comes out before November, it might even be possible to impeach and remove Trump before the election.

It’s very important to me to get rid of Trump, because the biggest danger he presents is the risk of starting a war (even a nuclear one) that would kill huge numbers of people in someplace like Iran or Korea even if it doesn’t do much harm to the US -- and that risk, at least, would be much less if Pence were President. But that just means that any move to get rid of Trump must actually get rid of Trump, not just be some useless symbolic gesture.

[This post is adapted from comments I made here.]


Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

I never even thought about the "premature impeachment" angle ... but I did see that Alternet piece the other day. I guess I found it hard to believe that Trump would try to start a nuclear war ... only because of how rich he is ... I figure rich folks are the last in line to want to use nukes ... you know ... hurting business or markets reasons, conventional wars or drones, sure, but intercontinental missiles, I figure they would hesitate ... but not because of killing people or whatever ... but money reasons. I can understand Trump though if he struck back against a country like NK, if they hit us first, ONLY. I believe in defending ourselves ... but so far, I dont have reason to actually think that NK will nuke us ... all I see is "woof ticket" threats, talking/ tweeting shit, etc (I think Slim Kim tweets too ... like Trump?). But then again, despite Trump's wealth (which probably isnt as much as be brags it is), he may just not be disciplined enough mentally, to hold back from an attack, when someone is just talking shit to him ... I dont know? But I see your point, you dont want a half- assed failed impeachment ... I figure there has to be something he is doing that is questionable though, maybe it hasnt came out yet ... that may be illegal. I just hoped the guy would get burned out and resign or whatever ... but right now, he's high on the hog and gung- ho since things are going great with his tax crap. He told some execs the other day at his resort ... "I just made y'all alot richer"!

27 December, 2017 07:47  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Unless the Democrats retake the Senate and House, there will be no impeachment, IMO.

I'm counting on Mueller to uncover and expose what happened during the 2016 campaign. We already kow that Trump's campaign manager is in trouble and that Trump's NSA, Flynn, has been charged with a felony. That's just the tip of the iceberg. Impeachment may be the least of Trump's worries in the coming year[s].

Trump is losing support, not gaining it, and has been under water in his approval ratings since he was inaugurated. A terrible record for a new president. We have to take comfort in the fact that those numbers reflect his deep unpopularity with the American people.

28 December, 2017 15:20  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ranch: In the case of rich people who are rational, that's true. The wealthy logically have no interest in disrupting the existing order of things. They are making out very well from the existing order of things. However, I question trump's rationality, given his record. And a war someplace like Iran or Korea, where he probably has no investments, might strike him as cost-free to himself. At any rate, we don't have the right to stake millions of lives on his rational self-interest.

Shaw: It's quite likely that we'll retake both the House and the Senate, but in 2018 we can't get to the 67 Senate seats needed for a successful impeachment -- it's mathematically impossible. So some Republicans will need to go along. Our best hope is that Mueller's report will persuade them.

28 December, 2017 15:45  
Anonymous Marc McKenzie said...

Thanks for this, Infidel. Next year (2018) will mark the 20th anniversary of the impeachment of Bill Clinton by the GOP--and yet, it seems that so many have forgotten that and also about the process of impeachment itself. While I also feel that Trump MUST be impeached--and that Democrats will take the House and the Senate next year--impeachment itself is a lot more difficult than people imagine (which was why I dismissed such talk during the George W. Bush years).

That said, Democrats, if they can retake the House and the Senate, can launch further investigations into Trump and company without the fear of interference from the GOP. And also expect more indictments from Mueller and plea deals that will make things more uncomfortable for Trump. It could end up that if talk of impeachment in the House becomes so overwhelming, Trump could just resign.

Of course, whatever happens, we need to still get the hell out and vote en masse in 2018. No more "I'm not voting because both parties are the same!!" and no more purist rationals for not casting a ballot. If 2017 was an indication, expect to see greater turnout for a midterm election than we've seen before, because people are (finally) becoming more aware about just how important elections truly are.

29 December, 2017 13:03  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Marc: That's a good point that if Democrats regain control of Congress, they'll have other options in addition to impeachment, such as pressing their own investigations. They'll also be in a better position to protect Mueller, if his work is still ongoing.

Trump resigning is possible if impeachment looks inevitable, but it would take a lot of pressure. I imagine some deal could be worked out to spare him prosecution on state charges (which a pardon from Pence couldn't save him from) if he went quietly rather than putting up a fight.

And yes, we have to focus on turning out the base from now on. As for the idiots who still bleat that "both parties are the same" after everything we've seen, as I said in an earlier post, they're unreachable and should be written off. The energy which would have gone into arguing with 100 purist bloggers who demand impossibilities would be better spent getting 200 black or gay or other base voters to the polls.

30 December, 2017 15:16  

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