Impeaching Trump Will Be an Awful Process. Democrats Should Start It Immediately.
impeach launch impeachment hearings on the motherfucker.
Launch the hearings even if a majority of the public–hell, even a majority of Democrats–don’t support impeachment. Launch the hearings even if there is zero chance of two-thirds of the Senate voting to convict Trump. Launch the hearings even if longtime Beltway reporters dread inflaming the tender sensitivities of partisans on both sides of the aisle, as Karen Tumulty apparently does. Though why she thinks a motion to censure Trump would be less inflammatory is something she doesn’t get around to explaining.
This seems to have been the Democrats’ plan all along–to have various committees hold hearings to gather more testimony and evidence about the sheer breadth of Trump’s impeachable conduct. To be slow and methodical and build a case, for which the revelations in the Mueller report will be but one brick in the wall. It would explain why leaders have been cautious in their public statements, even shooting down the idea, as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer did this week. (Though he walked it back a bit later on.)
Sure, there have been good, practical reasons to tamp down expectations before now. Democrats have only controlled the House for a little over three months. It was reasonable to wait for Robert Mueller to finish his investigation and make his report. Impeachment is not the issue at the top of voters’ minds as our interminably long presidential campaign lumbers into gear, and Democrats don’t want their field of 4,672 candidates to get drowned out by partisan screeching about impeachment.
Then there is the sheer overwhelming volume of offenses over which Congress could plausibly impeach Donald Trump. Which one do you pick? There is the obstruction of justice as described in the Mueller report. Ordering subordinates to break the law. Being named as a co-conspirator in a federal indictment for violating campaign finance laws by paying women he had affairs with to stay quiet about them. Directing his lawyer to lie to Congress about a real estate deal. The violations of the Emoluments Clause he commits every time some Middle Eastern potentate books a floor of rooms at his hotel down the street from the White House.
And that’s just what I thought of off the top of my head. There are plenty more. No wonder public opinion hasn’t coalesced in favor of impeachment, even after the Mueller report dropped.
It was different for past impeachments. Nixon had a nebulous series of crimes, but in the end the revelation of tapes on which he was caught plotting to break the law while sitting in the Oval Office was enough to concentrate the attention of the public and even Republicans. Bill Clinton lied to a federal grand jury about an affair, but it was a blow job that people thought of, that singular private act that was dragged into the light as a synecdoche for all his grubby behavior—cheating on his wife with an intern half his age after years of skating on rumors of affairs with other women, mostly, but also the other scandals his political enemies ginned up to tar him but that never seemed to stick.
With Trump, there has not yet been that one singular moment that has come to define his entire portfolio of corruption and illegality. Sure, each of the individual behaviors listed above should be enough on its own to prove that he has badly failed to uphold his oath of office to protect the Constitution.
But tamping down expectations? Screw it. No sane observer of national politics expects Trump to be removed from office, so there is no need for Democrats to hold back in word or deed. There is no reason to be temperate about impeachment in public statements, even as the work behind the scenes grinds away. Serving as a check on Trump is Democrats’ job, whether we’re talking about acting as opposition to legislation he’d like to steamroll through Congress or stopping him from abusing his office.
Draw up articles of impeachment longer than Stephen King’s entire oeuvre put together. Dare Republicans to get upset about it. Let Lindsey Graham investigate Obama-era Democrats until his heart explodes. Let Sean Hannity spike his blood pressure out towards the Van Allen Belt. Let Peggy Noonan write the same wistful column about the death of grace she’s been writing since 1993. Let Mitch McConnell flat-out refuse to hold a trial in the Senate—his place in history as the Thanos of American democracy is already secure, so what’s one more constitutional article disintegrating at the snap of his stubby fingers?
Impeach the motherfucker. Impeach him because he has committed impeachable offenses. Impeach him because he is a racist and a xenophobe. Impeach him because he cozies up to dictators who are the exact opposite of everything America is supposed to stand for. Impeach him because his employees ignore his orders, rendering him an ineffective boss. Impeach him because it will cause Newt Gingrich no end of agita. Hell, impeach him because he is a jabbering swine with an undiagnosed personality disorder. Impeach him because you think his hair is stupid. Impeach him because you are grubby partisans who are going to truly act like it for once.
Impeach him because based on everything we know about him, it is the right thing to do.
Frankly, I don’t care. Pick one reason if you must, or pick all the reasons because all are valid. But admit that’s where this is all going, where it has all been going for months, and get this train rolling. To do anything less is to not do your job.