I’m a Democrat. I want my party to win the 2020 presidential election and make Donald Trump a one-term president, but I do feel my party needs to hit the ‘pause’ button on impeachment.
Just this week, in an interview with the Washington Post, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said: “I’m not for impeachment. This is news. ….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.
In my opinion, Speaker Pelosi is right, and she’s wrong.
Let me explain.
In response to the speaker’s remarks, Tom Steyer, the billionaire who’s been running television advertisements calling for Trump to be impeached, blasted her comments. “Speaker Pelosi thinks ‘he’s just not worth it?’ Well, is defending our legal system worth it? Is holding the President accountable for his crimes and cover-ups worth it? Is doing what’s right worth it? Or shall America just stop fighting for our principles and do what’s politically convenient?”
Steyer’s right. It’s not whether the president is ‘worth it’ or not, it’s a constitutional responsibility and duty by the House of Representatives on behalf of the American people.
Not all Democrats jumped on the Pelosi bandwagon with regards to impeachment. Rep John Yarmuth, D-Ky., said that Pelosi made ‘valid points’ in her latest comments….that the time isn’t right now, but added he feels the House is already gathering evidence to prepare for such a process. He said it’s "not a matter of whether it’s a matter of when."
And that, for some Democrats, is music to their ears. After all, impeachment is one of the reasons many of the 40 Democrats picked up seats in the House in the fall midterms last year.
Where Nancy Pelosi is right, is how divisive the impeachment process could be -- not only to the party but to our nation. This past week, a new Quinnipiac poll shows a majority of Americans – 59% -- don’t want the president impeached; 35% favor impeachment, 6% were unsure.
For some, impeachment would be fulfilling a campaign promise. Some, as I do, say pause, wait until the Mueller investigation is complete and see what his recommendations to the Attorney General are.
When Gerald Ford was the minority leader in the House, he said: “An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” And although that’s true, Democrats have to ask themselves, do they want this president punished? Or removed from office?
Article One of the Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power to impeach the president. The Democrats have a strong majority in the House, so there presumably would be an easy passage on impeachment. But then the process moves to the Senate, where a trial would be held. And to actually convict a president and then remove him from office? It would take a super majority, two-thirds of the Senate, in order for that to happen. Currently, Republicans hold a slim majority over the Democrats in that chamber.
And then there is history, which is not on the side of those who want to impeach the president. When Bill Clinton was president, the House of Representatives passed articles of impeachment, which led to a trial in the Senate on two charges: perjury and obstruction of justice. Clinton was acquitted of these charges in the Senate and two other impeachment articles, a second perjury charge and a charge of abuse of power, failed in the House.
At that time, the Republicans held 55 seats in the Senate. Only 50 voted to remove him on the obstruction of justice charge, even less, 45, on the perjury charge. So not all Republicans voted to remove him and no Democrat did.
And speaking of the divisiveness of impeachment, let’s look at the political ramifications and fallout of Bill Clinton’s impeachment.
In 1998 and 1999, polls showed that only about one-third of Americans supported Clinton’s impeachment or conviction. A year later, there was strong support for impeachment, but a majority, 57 percent, also supported the president remaining in office. And in the same poll, two-thirds said impeachment was harmful to the country.
And let’s not forget the fate of some of those 13 House members who managed Clinton’s trial in the Senate:
James E. Rogan lost his seat to Democrat Adam Schiff, Bill McCollum lost his bid for re- election, Bob Barr lost to John Linder in a Republican primary, George Gekas lost to Democrat Tim Holden, Ed Bryant didn’t succeed in his bid for the U.S. Senate… I think you get the point. Republicans lost seats in both the House and the Senate.
And that poor showing by Republicans in the Congressional elections of 1998, in addition to pressure from his own colleagues in the Republican Party, led Newt Gingrich to resign as speaker.
As for Bill Clinton? He not only remained president, but his job approval rating actually rose both during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal and the subsequent impeachment.
So Speaker Pelosi is wrong, Trump is worth it. But it’s also worth it to wait. Let's wait until we have all of the information from the Mueller investigation and wait until we have a majority in the Senate.