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Tuesday, April 23, 2019


Well, that didn’t work, so I will move on to the subject of impeachment.  In the past seventy –two hours I have read and listened to endless discussions of the question, many from people I respect.  I am sure this is true of all of you as well.  I am going to offer my opinion, painfully aware that it rests on predictions and factual estimates of which I am not at all confident. 

In brief, here is what I think the Democratic majority in the House should do:

1.         Launch detailed hearings in several different committees, supported by subpoenas and, if necessary, by legal proceedings to obtain as much precise, detailed evidence and sworn testimony as possible.  It would be well if these proceedings extend well into the fall.

2.         Meanwhile, continue drafting, holding hearings on, and passing legislation dealing with health insurance, drug prices, infrastructure, student loans, voter suppression, equal rights, minimum wage, and so on, clearly acknowledging that the Senate will not even take these bills up but presenting them as a promissory note to the American people, to be redeemed when the Democrats take back the Senate and the Presidency.

3.         Some time in the fall, complete its investigations and vote to censure the President, an action I believe never before taken by either chamber.

4.         Then, in late fall, launch full scale impeachment proceedings, leading early in 2020 to a vote to return a bill of impeachment against the president.  Speaker Pelosi should deliver a speech on the occasion of the vote openly acknowledging that the Senate Republicans will not vote to remove the President from office and indeed may not even take the question up for deliberation.

Then, the Democrats should run on a robust platform of specific legislative proposals based on the bills already passed in the House, and call on their base to turn out in record numbers in order to complete the removal of Trump that the Republicans were too craven to carry out.

All of this is based on three assumptions: first, that the election will be decided by turnout; second, that our base is bigger than their base; and third, that we can motivate our base sufficiently to win.  I am reasonably sure of the first assumption, quite sure of the second assumption, and not entirely confident about the third assumption.  But I think what I have proposed gives us our best chance.


marcel proust said...

1) Turnout + reasonable access to the polls

Robert Paul Wolff said...


David Palmeter said...

Eugene Robinson agrees with you:

According to NPR, Bernie still disagrees. He's concerned that it impeachment will work against the Democrats.

I'm pretty much persuaded by you and Robinson, particularly because the way both of you have laid it out, much public investigating will precede any decision on whether to go for impeachment. Once the investigating is done is the time to make that decision.

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

Dr. Wolff,
I have only one concern.
I worry about step 4. If we operate on the assumption that there will be insufficient Republican votes to guarantee conviction then the Senate may decide to take up the bill, hold a trial and acquit. We know what Trump would do in that situation - he'd play it like he did the Barr letter on the Mueller report and be in a situation where he claims to be proven innocent. History, at least the Nixon example, suggests that there may come a tipping point where the evidence can't be ignored by even the most partisan. If, as the investigations continue, there are more Republican defections and public opinion is for strongly for impeachment, forge ahead. If not, craft the Bill of Censure like an impeachment bill (maybe nail it to the door of a Trump property!).

The opportunity to use the House Committee investigations to create an expansive and detailed record of malfeasance in government is a gift. There will be at least these three things steadily unfolding in the political scene: 1) House committee investigations from numerous quarters, 2) Mueller investigation sequelae (continued developments in the 12 cases spun-off from the Mueller probe), and 3) Trump's legal challenges related to subpoenas from Congress, SDNY, and other Federal district offices, and the other side of coin including lawsuits filed by Trump, his campaign, inauguration committee, and Trump Enterprises against whoever the prosecuting authority may be.

There are at least 2 wildcards: Barr and Trump. Barr will likely use a non traditional legal theory in defending Trump against impeachment charges which if upheld by SCOTUS will be a problem. Then there is Trump, who will gladly create a constitutional crisis if and when it’s needed.

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

The last sentence should now read as follows: "...Trump, who will create a constitutional crisis through decompensation..."

David Palmeter said...

Here's Bernie Sanders on CNN:

"But if -- and this is an if -- if for the next year, year-and-a-half, going right into the heart of the election, all that the Congress is talking about is impeaching Trump and Trump, Trump, Trump, and Mueller, Mueller, Mueller, and we're not talking about health care, we're not talking about raising the minimum wage to a living wage, we're not talking about combating climate change, we're not talking about sexism and racism and homophobia, and all of the issues that concern ordinary Americans, what I worry about is that works to Trump's advantage."

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Chris, I have worried about that a good deal. But he will claim victory no matter what we do, and it will throw him off any message he has to be harrassed by the headlines. Lord, I just am not sure.

Michael Llenos said...

I've come to the conclusion that the reason why Democrats are unhappy these days has to do with something called the 22nd Amendment. Think about it. The Germans love Merkel. She's been in office as the Chancellor, like, forever. Why? Because she is loved by the German people, and she can serve as Chancellor as long as she is loved. (I think that's true about her unlimited term limit as Chancellor?) Does anyone believe President Obama would lose an election to President Trump? I would not mind if President Obama was President of the United States for the next 16 years plus. However, I have no idea how this can come about. And I do believe there should be a limit of 8 or 10 terms or something like that. 'I say we should repeal and replace the 22nd Amendment!'

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.