Trump: Impeachment Thread–Is it Time?

This thread is for links and comments about on impeaching Trump. Should the House of Representatives impeach Trump? Should they do so even if the Senate won’t convict and remove him? The first thing I’m going to post is a twitter thread from Yascha Mounk, a political scientist who studies democracies. Mounk lays out the two key questions that one should ask, in my opinion

It’s important to distinguish between two different questions: 1) Does Trump’s conduct warrant impeachment? The answer is easy: yes. 2) Will impeaching Trump help to save our democracy? The answer is much harder: if the Senate protects him, as seems very likely, probably no. So there is a substantive question, which @justinamash has, to his great credit, answered in the affirmative. But there is also a strategic question. And unless a lot of Republicans start to follow Amash’s lead–something that sadly seems very unlikely–it is a lot more foggy.
Mounk then links to two articles, one advocating for impeachment now, and the other (written by Mounk) advocating the opposite: By the way, Mounk mentions a thread by Representative Justin Amash, Republican from Michigan. Amash if the first congressional Republican to call for impeachment, and his thread is what made me think of starting this thread. The thread is below and worth reading:
Here are my principal conclusions: 1. Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report. 2. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct. 3. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances. 4. Few members of Congress have read the report. I offer these conclusions only after having read Mueller’s redacted report carefully and completely, having read or watched pertinent statements and testimony, and having discussed this matter with my staff, who thoroughly reviewed materials and provided me with further analysis. In comparing Barr’s principal conclusions, congressional testimony, and other statements to Mueller’s report, it is clear that Barr intended to mislead the public about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s analysis and findings. Barr’s misrepresentations are significant but often subtle, frequently taking the form of sleight-of-hand qualifications or logical fallacies, which he hopes people will not notice. Under our Constitution, the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” While “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is not defined, the context implies conduct that violates the public trust. Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment. In fact, Mueller’s report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence. Impeachment, which is a special form of indictment, does not even require probable cause that a crime (e.g., obstruction of justice) has been committed; it simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct. While impeachment should be undertaken only in extraordinary circumstances, the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ it as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct. Our system of checks and balances relies on each branch’s jealously guarding its powers and upholding its duties under our Constitution. When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law—the foundation of liberty—crumbles. We’ve witnessed members of Congress from both parties shift their views 180 degrees—on the importance of character, on the principles of obstruction of justice—depending on whether they’re discussing Bill Clinton or Donald Trump. Few members of Congress even read Mueller’s report; their minds were made up based on partisan affiliation—and it showed, with representatives and senators from both parties issuing definitive statements on the 448-page report’s conclusions within just hours of its release. America’s institutions depend on officials to uphold both the rules and spirit of our constitutional system even when to do so is personally inconvenient or yields a politically unfavorable outcome. Our Constitution is brilliant and awesome; it deserves a government to match it.
I think if one other can say something similar soon it could create momentum and lead a few others from saying the same thing. I’d like to see the snowball start forming. 5/20/2019 Rep. Amash thread today:
People who say there were no underlying crimes and therefore the president could not have intended to illegally obstruct the investigation—and therefore cannot be impeached—are resting their argument on several falsehoods: 1. They say there were no underlying crimes. In fact, there were many crimes revealed by the investigation, some of which were charged, and some of which were not but are nonetheless described in Mueller’s report. 2. They say obstruction of justice requires an underlying crime. In fact, obstruction of justice does not require the prosecution of an underlying crime, and there is a logical reason for that. Prosecutors might not charge a crime precisely *because* obstruction of justice denied them timely access to evidence that could lead to a prosecution. If an underlying crime were required, then prosecutors could charge obstruction of justice only if it were unsuccessful in completely obstructing the investigation. This would make no sense. 3. They imply the president should be permitted to use any means to end what he claims to be a frivolous investigation, no matter how unreasonable his claim. In fact, the president could not have known whether every single person Mueller investigated did or did not commit any crimes. 4. They imply “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” requires charges of a statutory crime or misdemeanor. In fact, “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is not defined in the Constitution and does not require corresponding statutory charges. The context implies conduct that violates the public trust—and that view is echoed by the Framers of the Constitution and early American scholars.

4 thoughts on “Trump: Impeachment Thread–Is it Time?

  1. Harsh Criticisms for House Democrats Not Moving on Impeachment

    I am surprised by the number and type of people who fall into this category. By “type,” I mean people who are smart and/or experienced and knowledgeable about politics. Here’s one example from Senator Harry Reid’s old Deputy Chief of Staff. He’s retweeting someone who worked on Capitol Hill:

    Again, this is far from the only tweet, among the people I follow. I guess for these people, they feel the answer to the strategic question is obvious–impeachment will save our democracy. Another possibility is that they really aren’t asking this question, which is a big mistake in my view. Finally, a smaller possibility might be that they don’t mind risking our democracy.

    5/20/2019

    Recent examples from two of smart people I rely on quite a bit for my understanding of politics:

  2. Harsh Criticism of Republicans Not Moving On Impeachment is Justified

    Not to state the obvious, but this is true for Republicans that know, deep down, that impeachment is justified and maybe even necessary. Why am I less ambivalent about Republicans than Democrats? The answer is that, as far I can tell, the primary reason for a Republican not calling on impeachment is either self-interest or partisanship. By “self-interest” I mean they’re afraid of losing relection–losing their political careers–and maybe even being hurt financially in some ways when they leave politics. I don’t mean to trivialize these consequences. These are serious consequences, while I said “harsh criticism is justified,” a part of me is not comfortable taking this position–mainly because I don’t feel like the most morally courageous person.

    But let me explain why I harsh criticism is justified, at least to some degree. I do think there comes a time when a politician has to risk their careers and even hurt their party. Examples of situations like this could involve going too far in violating a critical principle, moral or political. A POTUS pushing the country towards an authoritarian system would be an example. Or a POTUS may pose a serious national security threat. In both examples, protecting one’s career or one’s party is indefensible. One can sympathize with pain and sacrifice the individual would need to make, but that sympathy doesn’t affect the right course of action. I feel like congressional Republicans face that situation now (and actually they’ve been in this position for a while in my opinion).

  3. My Response to Those Demanding Impeachment Now

    In my view there is something worse than not impeaching Trump, and that is the Democrats losing power in the Congress–specifically losing control of the House, failing to win or losing seats in the Senate, and eventually even losing the White House.

    Here’s a breakdown of the reason I think this is such a bad scenario:

    1. I believe the GOP poses a greater threat to the rule of law, the constitutional system of government and key democratic institutions, and I base this on their silence or even active support of Trump–in spite of Trump’s blatant violations of long-standing Republican principles and values. I’m also convinced most of them know Trump is completely unfit and some may even realize that he poses a threat to national security and our system of government. My conclusion is that many or most of the Republicans are willing to sacrifice national security and our system of government for power. If one of two parties behaves this way in our system, the system will not only not function, but it could be destroyed–in this case, leading to a more illiberal, authoritarian system.

    If this is true, I feel like Democrats losing the House would be worse than Trump not being impeached and removed.

    2. Similarly, I feel the state and health of our democracy depends heavily on the Republicans suffering massive political defeat–not just in the House, but in the Senate and White House. Since power is so much more important to the GOP than principles, this is the only thing that will stop them. I also think this is the only way to build a good conservative party, which is something we need in our system. If Republicans do well at the polls, if Democrats lose significantly, the GOP will likely continue in their ways–maybe get even worse.

    If this assessment is accurate, then the Democrats should based impeachment on the way this will affect the political balance of power. It matters less if Trump deserves to be impeached–I think it’s clear that he does.

  4. Based on comments like the ones below, I’d say it’s time.

    My mind is a-scramble–I don’t know what to say first.

    Trump doesn’t think a foreign country, including one hostile to the U.S. (We can say that because of what we know about the 2016 election), can interfere with the election via giving information to a candidate. Stephanopoulos should have asked him if taking advice, coordinating actions with a hostile foreign power is also OK.

    “The FBI Director is wrong.” About calling the FBI went a foreign power tries makes contact with a campaign.

    “I never once called the FBI.” You weren’t the POTUS.

    I’m going to stop before my head explodes.

    6/13/2019

    Current chair of the Federal Elections Commission:

    Frank Montoya, Jr., a former director of an FBI counterintelligence office from 2012 to 2014, said Trump’s mindset about foreign influence presents “real dangers” to U.S. national security.

    “One, our adversaries will see it as an invitation to interfere in the next election on his behalf,” he said. “But worse is the open door Trump has enabled for all manner of influence operations to continue against U.S. interests.”

    So unpatriotic. A betrayal of our country and system of government.

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