To Impeach Or Not To Impeach: The Inanity Of The “Letting Things Go” Argument
Of all the arguments concerning what to do about Donald Trump if Democrats retake the House in the November midterm election, the hands-down head exploder even in the wake of former campaign manager Paul Manafort deciding to become talkative is that it’s not worth moving ahead on impeachment because there aren’t enough Senate votes to convict. And so, this argument goes, it would do more damage to the country to impeach but then acquit than “letting things go” until the 2020 election.
Keep in mind that impeachment is a political and not a criminal process and that as a sitting president Trump will not be indicted until he leaves office, if then. So sitting on our national hands until 2020 as he methodically continues to destroy America is not an option.
But that does not mean, as is argued at length here, that impeachment should not be pursued — albeit very carefully and with due diligence — even if a possible outcome is for the new Democratic-controlled House to vote to impeach but the new Senate, whether remaining Republican or perhaps under Democratic control if current polling trends hold up and the Brett Kavanaugh nomination debacle backfires on the GOP, cannot muster the necessary two-thirds vote to convict.
The reason for this strategy is as simple as the impeachment process is fraught: It is imperative that Democrats initiate impeachment proceedings if the rebuilding of a trashed America is to begin, Trump’s MAGA sycophancy be damned.
Should the polls be right for a change, it will fall to Jerrold Nadler, the rotund New Yawk Democrat, to get the impeachment ball rolling as chairman of the new House Judiciary Committee. I can’t think of anyone better for the job because Nadler is too smart to be become a lightning rod and will allow Republican lawmakers vent.
Done right, there’s even a chance enough Senate Republicans would vote with Democrats to convict the dirty bastard. We can always hope.
Here’s a smart take on the whole thing.
The impeachment process worked damned well during Watergate because there was a modicum of bipartisanship and Richard Nixon, drunken creep that he was, actually respected the Constitution. Nixon was impeached for misdeeds that pale in comparison to the Russia scandal and the Trump led gang-bang of said Constitution, and dutifully resigned before a Senate trial and likely conviction would have resulted in a one-way ticket back to San Clemente.
Anyhow, allow me to tell a story that ties together the Fortunate Then and Not-S0-Fortunate Now . . .
Back before there were iPhones, iPads or iAnythings, I used to keep notes and clippings on the big stories I covered in designated ring binders for quick and easy reference. One such binder was for the Bill Clinton impeachment circus in 1998, which I was assigned to cover as punishment for the terrific job I had done writing about the O.J. Simpson murders and trial. (Jerry Nadler was on the Judiciary Committee back then but refused to voted out articles of impeachment, correctly characterizing the move as an attempted coup d’état.)
I slid a copy of the above image under the plastic cover of my Clinton impeachment binder as part joke and part reminder.
The joke was that the gentlemen flanking the young Yale Law School grad in the 1973 photograph of the House Judiciary Committee in recess during its investigation of the Watergate break-in and other Nixonian crimes looked an awful lot like Michael Caine and Robert Duvall. And that the law school grad became the wife of the president who “did not have sex with that woman.” Fifteen years later, she was the target of a vicious right-wing smear campaign that included, among other blatantly false allegations, that she had murdered Vince Foster, the deputy White House counsel, and had been fired from the Watergate Committee for being a liar.
Bill Clinton did have sex with that women, and both Hillary lies have had long and fruitful lives.
The Foster lie was the centerpiece of the right-wing lunatic fringe’s ad hominem attacks on Jail Hillary during the 2016 campaign and the Watergate lie was oft mentioned by the more feckless of Bernie Sanders’s young acolytes as he battled Hillary for the nomination.
Rush Limbaugh (can you imagine?) got the lie about Hillary’s Watergate lie going, but it picked up real steam in 2008 when Hillary Clinton first ran for president when conservative hack columnist Dan Calabrese referenced a book written by Jerome Zeifman, who was chief counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, which was to initiate impeachment proceedings, not the better known Senate Watergate Committee chaired by Sam Ervin.
Clinton, then 26 and still a Rodham, had been hired by the committee led by Peter Rodino, and as Zeifman wrote in The Impeachment of President Nixon and the Crimes of Camelot, his semi-titillating 1998 book, he took a shine to young Rodham until he found out that she was (conspiracy alert!) collaborating with aides loyal to Senator Ted Kennedy who were trying to quash the Watergate investigation out of fear that Nixon would retaliate by exposing “the crimes of Camelot.”
Rodham, according to Zeifman’s allegation, was conspiring to deny the president legal counsel, and he wrote that as a result he fired her for “unethical” and “dishonest” conduct. While Zeifman’s account was wrapped in the faint ring of fact, the allegation itself was a flat-out fiction. Zeifman could not have fired Clinton even if he had wanted to. He didn’t have the authority, as she reported to others, while the Kennedy conspiracy was hogwash.
Finally, Zeifman’s contention that Rodham alone could have denied Nixon counsel is laughable — even if it has been believed by generations of Hillary haters.