The Morning Jolt

White House

Impeaching Trump Will Remain the Democrats’ Pipe Dream

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi addresses guests at an event hosted by the Economic Club of Washington in Washington, D.C., March 8, 2019. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Making the click-through worthwhile: Big, simple news; President Trump must be getting tired of all the winning, as both Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff are suddenly pouring cold water on impeachment talk.

Not-So-Quietly, Nancy Pelosi Takes Impeachment Off the Table

I guess we’re not impeaching Trump after all. As Emily Litella said, “never mind.”

On paper, everything House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said is accurate: “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.”

But a lot of Democrats have spent every moment since roughly 2015 insisting that Donald Trump is Beelzebub. Just yesterday, Ilhan Omar said that the president is“not human.” (Quite literally dehumanizing rhetoric.) And a significant chunk of the party has argued that Trump should be impeached from the moment he took office.

Liberal activist groups set up an online petition calling for Trump’s impeachment on Inauguration Day, declaring, “From the moment he assumed the office, President Donald Trump has been in direct violation of the US Constitution.” In mid-March, localities such as Berkeley passed resolutions calling for Trump’s impeachment. Representative Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) tweeted simply, “get ready for impeachment” on March 21, 2017. On February 10, about three weeks into Trump’s presidency, the Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling offered a survey finding that 46 percent of all respondents supported the impeachment of President Trump, and 80 percent of all self-identified Democrats did.

Constitutionally, calling for a president to be impeached on his Inauguration Day is Cloud Cuckoo Land. Pause for a moment and recall that the Constitution states, “the President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” American history is full of debates of what exactly qualifies as “high crimes and misdemeanors.” To a lot of those Democrats, the criteria for high crimes and misdemeanors was, “I can’t stand this guy, ergo, he must be guilty of something.”

As I’ve argued before, impeachment is not a mulligan or do-over. We’ve never removed a president from office in our history. Two have been impeached by the House but spared by the Senate, and President Nixon resigned. We can’t have the first president removed from office to be taken out on a technicality. Whatever we do now establishes a precedent for the future. And the last impeachment effort established one. In Bill Clinton’s impeachment, one of the crimes — perjury — was committed on video. No Democrat bothered to argue that Clinton had spoken “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” when he testified under oath that he had not had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. They simply argued that perjury in those circumstances did not necessitate removal from office. (In other words, we’ve established the precedent that perjury itself is not sufficient reason to remove a commander-in-chief from office.)

Pelosi can reasonably argue that it would be premature to make any moves about impeachment until special counsel Robert Mueller completes his investigation. (This is the 665th day of the Mueller investigation. We’ve heard various rumors and claims that it’s “wrapping up” since the middle of last year, so it seems safest to assume that no one outside of Mueller’s team knows when it will conclude. Mueller’s probe is financed through September, although that doesn’t mean that’s when the probe will conclude or the final report will be issued.

Impeachment is not supposed to be a speedy process. The impeachment of Bill Clinton began on December 16, 1998; the House voted on them four days later. The Senate trial began January 7, and the arguments ended February 8. The Senate had three days of closed-door deliberations, and then voted on February 12.

Pelosi can realistically ask Democrats why they should go through a multi-month impeachment process that is unlikely to result in the president’s removal, with the presidential election a year and a half away. A rational party would grasp that impeachment could easily blow up in their faces the way the 1998-1999 impeachment did for Republicans. But Pelosi doesn’t lead a rational party.

You’ll hear Democrats arguing that Trump’s collusion with Russia is already proven. The indictment of Roger Stone suggests that’s not quite the case. “During the summer of 2016, Stone spoke to senior Trump Campaign officials about Organization 1 [WikiLeaks] and information it might have had that would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign. Stone was contacted by senior Trump Campaign officials to inquire about future releases by Organization 1.” The indictment further states that Stone and WikiLeaks used another go-between, Jerome Corsi, although some other sections of the indictment indicate that the go-between was Randy Credico. In other words, if Trump was trying to figure out what information WikiLeaks knew by playing the telephone game through two go-betweens, how much collusion was going on?

You’ll hear Democrats citing about the emoluments clause and arguing that Trump is effectively taking bribes from foreign governments because they’re renting hotel rooms in Trump’s hotels. Come on, people. Trump doesn’t set his foreign-policy priorities based upon who’s renting hotel rooms. He sets his foreign-policy priorities based upon who’s flattering him the most and what he saw on Fox & Friends that morning.

For once, the grassroots progressives have a good reason to be furious with their leadership. “Impeaching Trump” is to the progressive grassroots what “repeal and replace Obamacare” is to the conservative grassroots — a big ambitious goal that passionate outsiders boast will be easy, and that will determine the fate of the country. Much like with the waves of Republicans in 2010, 2014 and 2016, Democrats arrived in Washington and suddenly learned their goal is much more difficult than it appeared.

But to a lot of progressives, it doesn’t matter whether the impeachment effort is likely to get 67 votes or not. The point is Trump did bad things, and he must be held accountable — and every senator must go on the record as to whether or not they believe his actions warrant removal from office. In 1998, Republicans knew that there was almost no chance that the Senate would vote to remove Bill Clinton from office. They thought holding Bill Clinton accountable for committing perjury and suborning perjury was the right thing to do, polling and ballot box consequences be damned.

The White House should be dancing a jig this morning. (Charlie wonders if Pelosi has some knowledge that the Mueller report’s conclusions won’t be all that dramatic.) Pelosi’s realism about the consequences of impeachment is about to run into a cerberus with three heads that look like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib, who vulgarly summed up the new Democrats’ plan for the president upon taking office.

What the Heck Is This, Schiff?

Meanwhile, House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said yesterday, “If the evidence isn’t sufficient to win bipartisan support for this, putting the country through a failed impeachment isn’t a good idea.”

When even Adam Schiff is throwing cold water on the idea of impeachment . . .  Trump must be getting tired of all the winning.

And Schiff’s starting to gripe a bit more loudly about Meuller’s methods:

I think it is a mistake. And I’ve said all along that I don’t think Bob Mueller should rely on written answers. When you get written answers from a witness, it’s really the lawyers’ answers as much as the client’s answer. And here you need to be able to ask follow-up questions in real time.

You think Schiff might be getting ready to blame Mueller for not delivering the goods?

And both Schiff and Pelosi throw cold water on impeachment in the same day? Maybe Charlie’s right and top House Democrats have learned the Mueller report is going to disappoint them.

ADDENDA: In case you missed it, what Joe Biden should say if and when some primary rival tries to play the race card against him and theDemocrats choose Milwaukee for their 2020 convention.

Former Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley, former Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr, former Redskins wide receiver Jameson Crowder, former Bears wide receiver Josh Bellamy, former Raiders guard Keleche Osemele . . .  how’s NFL free agency treating your team?

Most Popular

Energy & Environment

The Climate Trap for Democrats

The more the climate debate changes, the more it stays the same. Polls show that the public is worried about climate change, but that doesn’t mean that it is any more ready to bear any burden or pay any price to combat it. If President Donald Trump claws his way to victory again in Pennsylvania and the ... Read More
Elections

Kamala Harris Runs for Queen

I’m going to let you in on a secret about the 2020 presidential contest: Unless unforeseen circumstances lead to a true wave election, the legislative stakes will be extremely low. The odds are heavily stacked against Democrats’ retaking the Senate, and that means that even if a Democrat wins the White House, ... Read More
Culture

What We’ve Learned about Jussie Smollett

It’s been a few weeks since March 26, when all charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and the actor declared that his version of events had been proven correct. How’s that going? Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie ... Read More