For the past six months, Democrats and the media have inundated the American people with speculation and innuendo that President Donald Trump was and is involved in insidious wrongdoing.
It began with allegations Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with the Russian government to steal the presidency from Hillary Clinton. Unable to prove collusion, Trump’s detractors have shifted their allegations to a possibility of obstruction of justice.
If history and the current level of elite anti-Trump fervor is a guide, the allegations will likely take another form or two by the time all is said and done. Recall that former President Bill Clinton was investigated by a special counsel for the Whitewater Development Corp. real estate deal. But in the end, the probe devolved into a charge of perjury over his shenanigans with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Congress impeached and ultimately acquitted Clinton.
Rather than have history repeat itself, Trump could spare the American public three or seven more years of nonstop, breathless media pundits and politicians by demanding the Democrats put up or shut up.
If Trump is under investigation for obstruction of justice, what is the end goal? A criminal prosecution? Legal scholars, including Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, argue you cannot indict a sitting U.S. president. The Founding Fathers wrote a process for the executive’s removal into the Constitution: Impeachment. Why go outside the prescribed process?
If Democrats (or some Republicans, for that matter) are so convinced Trump’s behavior rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, Trump should call on them to pursue impeachment.
The way impeachment works in the federal government is the House of Representatives votes on one or more articles of impeachment. If passed by the House, the process would move on to the Senate for a trial. The trial would be presided over by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, and a team of House members would play the role of prosecutor.
Once the trial is complete, the Senate would vote as to whether or not the president would be removed from office. Rather than a simple majority, however, it would require a vote of at least two-thirds of the Senate for removal.
It is important to remember the impeachment process is political and Democrats have been on a notable losing streak at the ballot box. Impeachment is obviously unlikely to happen with the Republicans controlling the House.
Despite Democrats’ dismal election performances over the last three years, let’s pretend they can win the House in 2018. If that is the case, there is a real possibility the House would impeach Trump. To be sure, some of the old guard will have to perform some rhetorical acrobatics to sync their positions on Clinton’s impeachment with Trump’s.
Consider the leading advocate for Trump’s impeachment, Rep. Maxine Waters, Democrat of California. In 1998, shortly before the House voted to impeach Clinton, Waters called the effort a “coups d’etat,” “disregard for the voice of the people” and “one of the most despicable actions ever taken by the Congress of the United States of America.”
Just as everything about Trump as a politician — his campaign and his presidency — has been unconventional, he should go against conventional wisdom and call their bluff.
Trump believes he has not done anything wrong. And so far there has not been any tangible evidence to show that he has.
So imagine that in a public appearance Trump dares Congress to impeach him. Would they do it? As mentioned, if the Democrats are running the House, they very well might.
Given what we know now about Trump and wrongdoing, would that be enough for even a Democratically controlled House to come close to convincing the 67 senators needed to remove Trump from office? This is a Senate that can barely pass a funding bill to keep the government from shutting down.
The likely outcome would be Democrats embarrassing themselves, and an ultimate acquittal. That acquittal would clear Trump’s name for the time being and likely take a political toll on the Democrats, much as it did when Republicans tried it under Newt Gingrich. And remember, this is hypothetical; the Republicans still hold both chambers.
What does Trump have to lose? Does any congressperson really believe this president has done something serious enough to warrant impeachment and removal from office? Doubtful.
The rhetoric and the congressional investigations are all a ruse. In part, it is being played up to keep the Democratic base energized and maintain fundraising efforts coming out of a disappointing presidential election.
Trump could easily end the effectiveness of this tactic by going on the offense and daring them to try to impeach him.
Not only would it solidify Trump’s base, but it would also call into question the entire purpose of the opposition party. Are Democrats in Washington, D.C., working to advance a so-called progressive agenda, or are they just looking for political points to secure their re-election bids?
Without that kind of ultimatum, this is not going away. Being patient and letting the investigation play out is the Democratic Party’s code for “allow this dark cloud of uncertainty to hang over you until the 2020 campaign so we have a better chance of winning.”
It is worth calling their bluff and letting the country see how it plays out.