The Residential Library

The sometimes demented, frequently irreverent, and occasionally stupid musings of Ron Hargrove

Trump clearly deserves impeachment – His defense grows increasingly weak and silly

By Jason Nichols | Fox News   [November 1, 2019]

Since his inauguration, Donald Trump has been our Teflon president – a label first applied to President Ronald Reagan, but even more appropriate for Trump. Both presidents earned the title because although they were hit with scandals, nothing seemed to stick – they remained popular.

But in a history-making move Thursday, House Democrats held a procedural vote on how they will move forward with the impeachment process against Trump – and now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., appears to be using some heavy-duty scouring pads to scrape off Trump’s Teflon.

Pelosi, a brilliant political tactician, looks like she is setting Trump up to become just the third president in American history to be impeached by the House – a badge of shame he may bear for crossing the line from arrogance and ignorance to high crimes and misdemeanors.

Crucially, impeachment by the Democratic majority in the House doesn’t mean Congress will be telling Trump: “You’re fired!”

It would take 67 votes in the Republican-controlled Senate to convict Trump of impeachment charges and expel him from the Oval Office. That means if every Democratic senator and independent aligned with Democrats votes to impeach (not a certainty) another 20 Republican senators would have to join them to make Trump the first president in our nation’s history to be removed from office.

Evidence of Trump’s impeachable conduct when he pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate potential Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden is so overwhelming that there is little Republicans can do to refute it. So they’ve taken to complaining about unfairness in the impeachment process – an absurd argument, but all they’ve got to work with.

The truth is that the impeachment process approved by Democrats Thursday is fair to Republicans, in that it allows them to issue subpoenas and question witnesses. And the process is fair to Trump as well.

The most important point is that Democrats have outmaneuvered Republicans at every turn on the road to impeachment in the House – and impeachment now appears very likely.

Before Thursday’s full House vote in support of an impeachment inquiry of Trump, Republicans mostly complained that no such vote had been held, and also objected to the fact that the House Intelligence Committee was interviewing witnesses behind closed doors.

Thursday’s vote and the Democratic commitment to public hearings destroyed those Republican talking points. But Republicans keep complaining anyway, saying the full House vote should have been taken earlier and raising every technical objection they can think of in a desperate move to derail the impeachment train that is clearly picking up steam.

Unless you’re an extreme partisan and blind follower of Trump who will defend him no matter what, the GOP complaints don’t hold up.

There were 47 Republicans – nearly a quarter of all GOP House members – with access to the closed-door fact-finding process conducted up to now by the House Intelligence Committee. So saying Republicans were frozen out of the deposition hearings where witnesses were interviewed is simply not true.

Interviewing witnesses in private allowed for them to testify without partisan grandstanding by congressmen more interested in getting on TV than in getting the facts. And the closed-door interviews allowed longer questioning by professional staff members as well as House members.

The Constitution allows the House to conduct impeachment proceedings however it chooses. By holding a vote of the full House Thursday, Democrats eliminated a key complaint being made by Republicans whose blind loyalty to Trump seems to blind them to his numerous impeachable offenses.

No Republicans voted to move forward on impeachment. But that doesn’t mean no Republicans will vote to impeach Trump when that question comes to what seems like an inevitable vote.

Public impeachment hearings are almost certain to increase public support for impeaching Trump. As public opposition to Trump grows, pressure will grow on Republicans – particularly those in swing districts – to vote with their constituents and support impeachment.

Some argue that a public vote for anything impeachment-related puts red state Democrats in a vulnerable position. Those analyses are incorrect. Republicans are going to invest heavily in flipping Democratic seats in red states regardless of how Democratic representatives vote on impeachment.

As long as swing-district Democrats seem measured and fair in their reasoning in support of impeachment, they will not pay any extra price with their voters.

Polls already show that most Americans support impeachment and even the removal of this president. Democrats who win in red areas do so with the support of independents who can be swayed, not by garnering support from Trump’s loyal base.

The witnesses House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., may call to testify in open hearings – including many who have already testified behind closed doors – are strong and nonpartisan.

These witnesses include acting Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, a Vietnam War veteran, Bronze Star recipient, and career diplomat who began his government service under the Reagan administration; Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director of European affairs for the National Security Council and a decorated combat veteran who was wounded in defense of our country; and possibly former Trump-appointed National Security Adviser John Bolton, a staunch conservative for decades who has worked for past Republican presidents.

It will be laughable for Trump sycophants to cast these and other patriotic public servants as hyper-partisan “Never Trumpers” or “deep state” (a silly term in itself) closeted Democratic operatives. Attempts to attack Lt. Col. Vindman by painting him as a Ukrainian double agent have already backfired badly on the right.

Cornered, President Trump continues to lash out on Twitter with absurd arguments and vicious personal attacks on anyone who says a word against him. But the arguments of Trump and his defenders are growing increasingly weak and silly. And more and more of Trump’s Teflon is falling off, day by day.

Dr. Jason Nichols is a full-time lecturer in the African American Studies department at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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