It would be a profound mistake for Democrats to be goaded into pursuing impeachment of President Trump now or any time in the future.
I say this based on the evidence that is publicly available about what Trump did or did not do – whether it be on non-existent collusion with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election, or allegations that he obstructed justice in the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Some Democrats believe Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice and can be impeached for that offense. But Mueller’s report was very clear – whether you take his side or the side of Attorney General William Barr. Mueller and his team could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump was guilty of obstruction of justice.
The Mueller report identified about 10 instances involving alleged obstruction of justice by Trump. It’s true that there were many instances where the evidence seemed to suggest that there were efforts by the president to undermine or block the Mueller investigation. But when push comes to shove, there was no clear and demonstrable evidence that could be cited to make the case for obstruction.
It is absurd for Democrats to continue seeking the unredacted Mueller report and the vast amount of underlying evidence examined by the Mueller team to prepare its report.
It is absurd for Democrats to keep trying to interview people like former White House Counsel Don McGahn – who failed to appear at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, on orders from the president – and to interview Mueller and others.
An impeachment vote by the House would send the case against Trump to the Senate, where it would take 67 votes to convict the president and remove him from office. That means Democrats would need to pick up the votes of 20 Republican senators to send Trump into retirement – an extraordinarily unlikely scenario.
Having McGhan, Mueller or additional witnesses testify before Congress will not produce a Perry Mason moment – a shocking admission by a witness, like those featured on the old TV series, that will show conclusively that Trump broke the law and lead to his impeachment.
And keep in mind that while House Democrats have the votes to impeach Trump, that action would not remove the president from office. An impeachment vote by the House would send the case against Trump to the Senate, where it would take 67 votes to convict the president and remove him from office. That means Democrats would need to pick up the votes of 20 Republican senators to send Trump into retirement – an extraordinarily unlikely scenario.
The growing sentiment among House Democrats to hold impeachment hearings for President Trump plays right into the president’s hand, by giving credence to his assertion that the Democrats are a party of division, polarization and endless investigations.
We have had our investigation – Mueller spent almost two years probing the president, his campaign, and his administration regarding collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice. We now need to move on to the issues facing our nation.
Democrats need to run a 2020 campaign against the re-election of President Trump based on his failure to get things done to improve the lives of the American people – not based on impeachment or an endless and enduring criminal investigation that increasingly looks desperate.
Put another way, no matter what Trump’s tax returns reveal – and we have some evidence in the public arena already – the fact is that a bipartisan coalition will not conclude that he should be removed from office based on how he handled his personal and corporate finances.
And quite frankly, the idea of investigating a president’s business activities before he was even in office strikes me as a precedent that we do not want to set.
However, a precedent that we as Democrats do want to set is on the issues that the American people care about – including immigration, infrastructure, jobs, health care and gun control.
Indeed, there has been a failure by this administration to reach a deal with Congress on rebuilding our infrastructure, as well as to adequately address the issues of income equality and job training.
Moreover, it is an outrage that we don’t have a deal on immigration to protect our border and provide a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers (unauthorized immigrants brought to the U.S. as children), as well as a way to give the 11 million immigrants who are here illegally the right to stay in our country.
To be sure, what we need is to do what former Vice President Joe Biden said the other day is necessary on issues such as health care. Biden said we need to bring the country together to a consensus so that we protect the millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions and not let people fall through the cracks without the health care they desperately need.
Those are the big issues, and those are the issues that the American people care about. The failure of the Trump administration to get anything done on these consequential issues can be pinned on the president, and is a strong argument against giving him another four years in the Oval Office.
I also believe compellingly and candidly that the Republican campaign against abortion rights – specifically, the Alabama state law making abortions illegal in virtually all cases – as well as the comparable laws passed in other states such as Georgia, is just plain wrong on the merits.
Ultimately, this gives Democrats an extraordinary opportunity, particularly in suburban swing areas where Democrats picked up seats in the House in 2018, to continue to consolidate our gains.
It is abundantly clear that the Republican Party is opposed to a woman having the right of choice regarding abortion, and we can drive that point home throughout the campaign.
Indeed, we can also drive home on the fact that, on the issue of gun control, we need stronger background checks and need to make sure that we strictly limit the sale of assault weapons. We must make it clear that gun control is an issue whose time has come, as we saw in the midterm elections.
Put another way, there is a moderate Democratic platform that can be built around health care, jobs, the environment and climate change, along with infrastructure, abortion, and gun control that gives us a great chance to beat the incumbent president.
Getting distracted by impeachment will only impede our chances of developing a narrative that can defeat President Trump in 2020. Trump currently trails Biden – the leading Democratic presidential hopeful – by over 10 points at this very early stage of the campaign.
Ultimately, if we Democrats stick to the issues and themes that we know will resonate with voters we have a very good chance at capturing the presidency, holding the House, and potentially even picking up a seat or two in the Senate in elections next year. So why not do it?