Eat A Peach

There are four general reactions to the Articles of Impeachment against President Trump. The first two come from those who favor Trump.

  • He’s innocent and did nothing wrong.
  • I don’t care if he did anything wrong, he’s still better than the alternative.

On the other side, there are also two reactions.

  • Two articles of impeachment focusing on his clear and certain improprieties narrow the focus and get the job done now.
  • Two articles of impeachment are grossly inadequate, and the House should investigate everything he’s ever done, take as long as necessary, and impeach him for each and every wrong.

The impeachment hearings before the House committees were largely a show for the benefit of the public, intended to break the logjam of Trump support by offering the testimony of witnesses to both show and tell what happened and why it’s wrong. While the initial revelation of the Zelensky phone call saw a bump in support for impeachment, that support quickly faded back to the numbers that already divided the nation on impeaching Trump.

Some, like Jamelle Bouie, view this two-count approach as capitulation by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rather than a smart tactical effort to narrow the focus to a clearer, and provable, narrative. Bouie would have the House investigate Trump for decades so that no stone is unturned, no outrage goes unmentioned.

The better alternative — the stronger alternative — is to wait. Pursue new investigations to support additional articles of impeachment. Expand them beyond Ukraine: Investigate corruption and wrongdoing throughout the administration and accomplish as much as you can before handing the process over to the Senate.

The argument is that this isn’t a process designed to impeach the president, which won’t happen as long as the Republicans own the Senate, but a process designed to spend day after day presenting evidence of Trump’s awfulness, a national catharsis for the Democrats, the Resistance, those who hate Trump so very much that they will happily spend their days, their years, obsessed with every nuanced gripe against this vulgar, amoral ignoramus.

There’s no reason for Democrats to end things now. They have enough material to keep the pressure through the new year. They can show the country what Trump has done with his power, and why he shouldn’t be allowed to wield it any longer. Close scrutiny will also discourage the president from new attempts to leverage his office for personal gain, and if nothing else, an extended impeachment process will keep the process away from Mitch McConnell.

For lawyers, there should be a familiar ring to Bouie’s call to arms. His view is common to litigants, particularly of the pro se type, who want to include every single, tiny, trivial, provable or not, detail of the things they are outraged about in their lawsuit. Sure, they could achieve, and prove, their case with two causes of action, but there are so many more complaints burning inside them and they must come out, they must be heard.

For the folks who support Trump, this is the constitutional process for addressing complaints against a president. Even if you believe the allegations to be woefully inadequate and false, and take no issue with his hair or rhetorical challenges, this is the process by which a president’s conduct is challenged.

Josh Blackman raises the specter of opening a Pandora’s box of impeaching a president whenever he’s hated and engages in mundane politics while in the otherwise banal execution of presidential prerogatives.

The Senate is heading into uncharted territory. Once articles of impeachment are completely decoupled from any clearly articulated offenses, the burden of charging a president with “abuse of power” is significantly reduced. Moreover, any president who refuses to comply with what he sees as an improper investigation can be charged with “obstruction of Congress.”

Then again, as Orin Kerr argued in response to Josh:

This strikes me as pretty much the core of what the Constitution’s impeachment power is designed to address.  And I should add, to the extent it is relevant, that I was against impeaching Trump before the Ukraine story broke. It was the astonishing facts of what happened with Ukraine that changed my mind, moving me from being against impeachment to being in favor of it.

While Josh’s point, that it opens the door to the slippery slope by decoupling the basis for impeachment from any cognizable offense that has discrete elements upon which findings can be made, relying instead on vague generalities, Orin’s point is that what happened here is so clear, flagrant and provable that it’s beyond question grounds for impeachment.

The fear is that if Trump is impeached, as he almost certainly will be when the House votes on these Articles of Impeachment, it could well begin a quadrennial battle between the warring tribes, provided the right split exists in Congress, and particularly when it could prove useful in gaining electoral hegemony.

Have we finally come to grips with Trump’s actions or has the House made a grave mistake? Have we opened up electoral nuclear warfare or can we trust Congress to demonstrate integrity and humility before deciding to drop the bomb? Is there a point to this dog and pony show? Is there any hope that a Republican Senate will put country before party should the trial on impeachment sustain the allegations in the articles?

22 thoughts on “Eat A Peach

  1. Bryan Burroughs

    Because I know you want my opinion on your blog, I’ll give it…
    There is more than enough to impeach (and remove) this President, but not enough to show that it’s not just partisan bitching, due to Democrats banging the impeachment drum since the literal day after he was elected. Similar to how Dems were unable to effectively signal just how unfit Trump was to be President during the election, because they had spent the previous 20 years calling every candidate with an R beside his name a racist, sexist, evil bigot.

    Their actions have, unfortunately enabled McConnell to ignore the grave threat that is this President.

    1. SHG Post author

      Your opinion is less a matter of interest than your reason for your opinion, which you provided so that your comment is both interesting and useful.

      Your point, that the constant screaming at every burp and fart has inured and exhausted a country to Trump’s failings is a significant problem. it’s reminiscent of the fable “the boy who cried wolf,” reminding us not only of the problems of false hysteria but that ultimately, there was a wolf and nobody believed him.

  2. Howl

    Probably not interesting or useful:

    The more time Congress spends on impeachment, the less damage it can do elsewhere.
    “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”
    – Judge Gideon J. Tucker

    Leaving Trump in office may be the Democrats best chance at winning the election.
    “I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.”
    – Will Rogers

    – There Is No Voting Our Way Out Of This

    1. SHG Post author

      I mused a few times that the last thing the Dems want is Trump removed from office, as there’s no way they could possibly get a quasi-socialist candidate elected without someone so hated as the alternative.

      1. LocoYokel

        The flip side of that coin is that he is apparently not so “universally” hated as they would like to believe. That is part of their problem, a not insignificant portion of the country likes and approves of Trump and what they think he is doing.

        Even Vlad the Impaler was seen by his countrymen as a hero who drove out the Ottomans and protected the country from them , regardless how we, as outsiders, see him today.

        1. SHG Post author

          Whether they like and approve of Trump, or tolerate Trump, is one question. Whether enough continue to do so is another than won’t be answered until the next election, assuming he’s not removed (see Steve?) in the interim.

  3. Dan

    I do tend to think that Trump is less bad than any of the current Democratic contenders for 2020, but a pox on all their houses. But what’s most interesting to me is what **isn’t** in the articles. We’ve heard a lot of noise from the Hill about Bribery, especially after the Democrats’ focus groups told them that was a word that would resonate with the voters (and maybe they realized that “quid pro quo”, as far as it goes, is not only perfectly legal, but is the basis of literally every contract). But it isn’t there. Similarly, there was a lot of talk about obstruction of justice, but that isn’t there either.

    The obstruction of Congress article boils down to “you didn’t help us with our witch hunt” (and when they’ve been screaming “impeachment” since the election, a witch hunt is exactly what this is), and represents a pretty startling (and unprecedented, AFAIK) assertion of Congressional authority over the Executive.

    So they’re left with “abuse of power”, in that the President tried to get a foreign government to initiate a criminal investigation into a political rival of his–who was also involved in an incredibly shady deal. Is that going to sway the “undecideds”? It remains to be seen, I guess, but I doubt it.

    1. SHG Post author

      Turley made the point that until SCOTUS say so, there’s no legal holding to support the contention that the categorical refusal to cooperate, tacitly invoking Executive Privilege, is obstruction. It’s fair to argue that Congress can make up its own rule, but it’s also fair that if that’s how obstruction is to proceed, it’s hard to establish legitimacy of the House’s obstruction count.

      1. Lee Keller King

        From here is civil litigation land, it seems to me to be the same as filing a motion to show cause why a party should held in contempt of court for discovery abuse without first filing and winning a motion to compel. Is it an offense to refuse to obey a discovery request from Congress without the courts deciding if the request was valid? I don’t think so, but then I’m not a Democrat congressperson.

        1. SHG Post author

          That’s pretty much how I viewed it as well. Send a subpoena and you can move to quash or make the other side move to compel. Ignoring it is just part of the game.

  4. Steve Brecher

    “The argument is that this isn’t a process designed to impeach [sic] the president, which won’t happen as long as the Republicans own the Senate …”

    I think the appropriate word there is “remove,” or more completely, the phrase “impeach and remove.” I know that I don’t need to explain the constitutional process. If you choose to retain “impeach,” I’d like to know why on the ground that the knowledge might help me get more dates.

    1. SHG Post author

      Notice how no one else struggles over commonly used words to describe the general process that everyone understands, but which seems to trigger you? If there was a good reason to be pointlessly OCD about it, at that particular juncture (such as this being a post about whether the remedy should be censure, removal, disqualification, etc.), then perhaps it would be an issue. But it’s not, so your OCD is tedious and pointless. The objective is to communicate, not become boorish pedantic slaves.

      In other words, every knowledgeable person recognizes what I’m saying, even if it could be said with a greater degree of precision to the point of being insufferable. Don’t be insufferable, Steve. It’s neither fun nor helpful.

  5. L. Phillips

    “. . . can we trust Congress to demonstrate integrity and humility . . .”

    That there is some dark humor.

  6. Ray Lee

    In light of the history and political realities, I get the sense that the process thus far has been the political version of cops taking a perp they just know to be guilty but who they also know won’t be convicted on a “rough ride” to insure that consequences get imposed. And with the Jamelle Bouie wing of Team D saying make the ride longer and “so what if he’s guilty” wing of Team R saying its not the cops’ job to impose punishment and both wings willing to completely switch views if / when circumstances are reversed.

  7. Black Bellamy

    The actuarial tables say I’m going to be alive when USSF Trump launches. The first of our armed space cruisers, establishing the final hegemony and bringing peace and order to our planet. Pew pew pew! Our first Earth-like colony will be called Trumpia, but I won’t be around for that. Unites States Space Force. Go ahead, say it out loud. Sing it! Tun dun dun dun, dah dun dah dun, dun dun dun! See? It even has a catchy tune. So awesome man. Where were you when we passed the law that said from this moment on, we’re going to conquer the galaxy?! Spaaaaaaaaaaace Fooooooooorce! We need a aggressive and proud logo to persist across the ages, someone hop to it.

    Oh man I can’t wait for Trump’s second term. You know who else can’t wait? The Money! Money loves Trump! Everybody has been getting their cake because of our man, do you think they’ll let that sweet meal ticket fly away? The ones who bash him the strongest profit the most. Our precious media elites where would they be without him? Imagine every night: Biden. Biiiiiiiden. Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiden. Fucking kill yourself from boredom, amirite? The evidence is right there in front of your face. No one could be serious about removing Trump and be taking the actions and saying the things they are. Something had to be done. This was something. We done did it.

    Nikki Haley 2024!

  8. MollyG

    I have a fifth reaction. Don’t impeach now because politically the Democrats will get one shot at impeachment, and impeaching now will waste it because the Senate will never convict. There is likely a worse scandal out there that will come out (I am guessing major tax fraud). Keep up the investigations, keep up the hearings, and only pull the impeachment trigger when there is a shot at conviction and the public opinion is strongly in favor.

    1. SHG Post author

      What makes you think there’s only one shot at impeachment? The double jeopardy clause doesn’t apply to impeachment.

      1. Lee Keller King

        There may be no legal basis to rule out a second impeachment, but I think that for all practical (political) purposes, they have one shot. If they blow this shot (which I think they will), the political fallout from a second attempt would likely be tremendous.

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