What can Democrats do to impeach Trump?
The buzz surrounding the call for Donald Trump’s impeachment existed since the start of his presidency. People predicted that he would get impeached before his presidency started and questions of impeachment are surfacing in earnest amidst the congressional hearings regarding the Mueller report and Trump’s tax returns. The first person from the Republican party, Justin Amash, called for Trump’s impeachment. Nancy Pelosi of the Democrats has not yet, and within the party, there is controversy surrounding the issue. By all accounts, impeachment is a possible course of action that could reasonably happen and perhaps should, but the question of what good would come from it is a debatable question.
What is Impeachment?
Impeachments do not only happen to presidents. They can happen to federal officers and, in various states, state officials. Impeachment by the House does not guarantee removal of any government official from office. Impeachment is ruled by a majority in the House and then the impeachment is tried by the Senate, which needs a supermajority to officially impeach and thereby remove a sitting official from office.
Two presidents who were impeached by the House, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, were both acquitted by the Senate. Impeachment proceedings were also brought against Richard Nixon in light of the Watergate scandal, though he resigned before proceedings could start. There were calls for the impeachment proceedings of presidents John Tyler, George W. Bush, Barack Obama (largely based on false claims), and now Donald Trump.
Impeachments do not happen often and when they do it ultimately means a government official did something and it was wrong and/or against the law. The House of Representatives has the power to impeach if officials take bribes, commit treason, or “other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The last part leaves a lot of leeways for the representatives to decide which high crime or a misdemeanor is worthy of impeachment based on their interpretation of these words.
For example, Bill Clinton engaged in sexual misconduct with Monica Lewinsky, proceeded to lie about the scandal under oath, and committed obstruction of justice all of which led to his impeachment by the House. Since a sitting president cannot be indicted, impeachment serves as a way to hold them accountable for their actions while in office and could lead to their official impeachment from office by the Senate, although it has never happened to a sitting United States President.
Will Impeachment Work This Time?
Journalists, politicians (largely democrats in the house), and political commentators are calling for the commencement of impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. It is hard to keep track of all of the individual actions that make Trump impeachable, especially since people found his conduct unpresidential from the start of his campaign. Given the political divide surrounding the issue, it is hard for anyone to come to a firm stance on whether or not impeachment, at this point, is practical and when it ever will be.
House Democrats sit on a tricky dilemma; impeaching Trump upholds the values set in the United States Constitution, but the impeachment could be an excellent catalyst for his 2020 reelection campaign.
On Twitter, he constantly talks of the democratic party’s “witch hunt” against him. He also tweets about the alleged attempts to spy on and sabotage his 2016 campaign. To his supporters, any impeachment proceeding brought against him would only further prove Trump’s claim. In addition, he already monopolizes most news-oriented television screens and if impeachment proceedings are brought against him, his face will be plastered on every news channel. Whether the press likes it or not, Donald Trump used them to further his platform in the 2016 election and continues to do so. To Trump, any press, negative or positive, is good press.
It is a bad situation either way. Either the House Democrats let him get away with obstruction of justice or they further his political agenda. Of course, this is counting on the fact that the Senate will not relieve Trump of his position as the United States President and that is likely considering two things: the Senate is made up of largely Republicans who feel inclined to support their party and the Senate has never upheld the decision of the House in regard to presidential impeachment.
Right now, the fifty Republicans in the House and twenty Republicans in the Senate would need to flip and vote for impeachment. If Trump is impeached by the House and the Senate acquits him, Trump can still run for a second term. At that point, he will only gain popularity and all of his claims, to his supporters, will be vindicated, making him almost unbeatable.
It is a tricky debate with perhaps one option left open: for someone to beat him in the 2020 elections.
What Can The Democrats Do?
If the Democrats focus their attention on building up their candidate for the 2020 election to beat Trump, then he has less of a chance of being elected for a second term. Right now, many House Democrats are pushing for an impeachment proceeding against Trump. So are the citizens of the United States. The will of the people is extremely important and the foundation of democracy. These are the values of the United States of America which are mostly reflected in the laws set forth in the Constitution that are important and deserve recognition and upholding.
However, the Democratic Party’s best move at this point would be to hold out and beat him in the elections. Discussions of impeachment will no doubt continue, but even as a symbolic gesture impeachment only serves to give Trump a voice for his reelection campaign. Since the Republican Party has a president in the office running for a second term, the Democratic Party’s focus should be on the 2020 presidential campaign where they might be able to beat Trump and put someone in office who can lead the United States towards a better future. What would punish Donald Trump the most for his disregard of the values and laws of the United States of America would be for him not to win reelection. Afterward, whatever civil or criminal suits are brought against him can be worked out by the law.