May 25, 2019

Dems Move Toward Impeachment: Headwind or Tailwind for Trump?

by Harold Gershowitz

Comments Below

Well, a growing number of Democrats, and at least one Republican (Rep. Justin Amash, R- MI) say it doesn’t matter whether impeaching President Trump is a good or bad thing to do with an election only eighteen months away. It is, they say, the right thing to do. The new political bell ringer and sage from the socialist left, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) says her fellow Democrats shouldn’t worry about the election. They should worry about what Trump is doing to the country, rather than what impeachment will do to their re-election chances. From a very narrow point of view, however, many like what Trump is doing to the country. And therein lies the dilemma for the Democrats. To many people, the country is looking better than it has looked in a very long time.

So, the country is about to be tested as it faces an age-old moral dilemma. Will voters turn thumbs down on a President who has committed impeachable offenses if those same Americans feel more economically secure than they did before Trump ascended to the Presidency?  We don’t know the answer to that question. No one else does either.

The Republicans are highly disciplined as they prepare for the eighteen-month slog to the 2020 election. They have become the Party of Trump. Forget the deficit, forget the debt, forget free trade, even forget our allies. They will deepfreeze old, rock-solid Republican principles, and sink or swim with the President. The country is humming along and they’ll stick with Trump no matter what.

The Democrats, on the other hand, are less disciplined. While they have real issues with which to wage a campaign for the 2020 election, many view an all-out effort to impeach the President as their best shot at ending the Trump Presidency. “Get Trump” is becoming the watchword of the Party. It is a huge gamble.  We also suspect it will be a losing gamble.

Trump is impeachable, (although, most assuredly not convictable in the Senate). That is, he has committed offenses that mirror the very offenses used to justify the impeachment of Presidents Nixon and Clinton. He instructed underlings to engage in obstructive behavior. Impeachment, however, isn’t a criminal procedure.  It is a political procedure, and therefore, it is fraught with political uncertainties and political pitfalls.

Readers have opined in their comments and in emails to this essayist that impeaching President Trump in the House of Representatives is imperative, even if the odds of prevailing in the Senate are poor. We disagree.

A failed impeachment. That is, an impeachment that fails to win a conviction in the Senate is, in our judgment, almost certain to result in a resounding Trump victory in 2020. The odds are very high that a botched impeachment will engender enormous sympathy for the President.

Here’s why. Even though Trump has behaved in a way that really does fit the definition of obstruction, many of the voting public will see his behavior as having resulted from very extenuating circumstances. He has been, many will feel, the victim of a concerted, heavy-handed effort to bring him down with false claims of conspiring with the Russians. He was, day in and day out from the moment he took the oath of office called a traitor, a Manchurian candidate, a pawn of the Russians and Putin’s man in the White House. Prone to temper tantrums, the President fumed and lashed out and in fits of anger crossed the line, and meandered into the obstruction thicket. Tens of millions of voters will cut him slack over that. They will wonder if there was, in fact, a so-called deep-state effort to reverse the results of the last election. They will sympathize with him and they will vote for him.

Almost every political utterance today is calculated and orchestrated. The Democrats, seeing the entire so-called Russian conspiracy scandal evaporate before their eyes, have quickly segued and down-clutched into an obstruction frenzy. They are committed to keeping an investigation strategy going right up to the 2020 election. We will hear and see a chorus of “Obstruction” and “Cover-up” filling the air waves and commanding barrels of printer’s ink right up to the election.

The Republicans will counter with cries of their own. “Deep State…Corrupt Accusers…$35 Million Wasted Dollars…Attempted Coup…Illegal Attempt to Bring Down the President…Phony Hillary-funded Dossier…Illegal FISA Warrants,” etc. etc.  Hang on to your hats folks, it’s going to get worse.

But here’s the thing.  Trump is an unusually vulnerable candidate for re-election. Even with a very strong economy, his standing with the public is poor. A review of the leading tracking polls this past week show that a firm majority of Americans do not approve of the job he is doing. He is not a popular President with a majority of Americans. Millions revile him. We have an economic recovery that, after ten continuous years of expansion, is growing long in the tooth. He is, contrary to what he tells us, neither stable nor a genius. His tariffs are foolish and fraught with danger. His use of emergency powers in the absence of emergencies is abusive of our system of government and our separation of powers.

A Democratic campaign focused on real issues could unseat this President. A Democratic campaign focused on impeaching him will not. Cries for impeachment will drown out cries for rebuilding our infrastructure, reforming our immigration laws, and seriously addressing health care.  If the Democrats keep huffing and puffing about impeachment they will huff and puff headwinds for themselves and tailwinds for the President.

All comments regarding these essays, whether they express agreement, disagreement, or an alternate view, are appreciated and welcome. Comments that do not pertain to the subject of the essay or which are ad hominem references to other commenters are not acceptable and will be deleted.

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13 responses to “Dems Move Toward Impeachment: Headwind or Tailwind for Trump?”

  1. Ben Donenberg says:

    Beyond the chorus refrain of what may become a new hit Adam Sandler song called ‘Obstruction and Collusion’ it does seem very likely Trump may be associated with a few white collar crimes that a peek at his tax returns and some Deutsche Bank statements may unearth. If those come to light and prove evidentiary, I wonder if that will change the impeachment algorithms?

    Even if they aren’t released, doesn’t the ultimate fate of a Trump criminal record and legal proceedings rest in the hands of judges and lawyers in the Southern District of New York? Or can the next President pardon Trump’s even if convicted after he leaves office?

  2. Perry says:

    The Democrats are on a path to self destruction, they have so long cried Wolf that they have put themselves in a corner. If they
    do attempt an Impeachment or if they do not either way they
    fail to convince the American people that they are busy doing their job in passing needed and necessary legislation.

    Meanwhile Trump can point out the tremendous strides he has
    made in keeping the economy humming at an accelerated pace,
    as well negotiating better agreements with Canada and Mexico along with taking the Chinese to task over their
    incessant and prolonged plan to overtake America in terms of
    economic and military strength.

    The Democratic party is seen as whiners at best, and the
    current POTUS is viewed as an achiever who in my opinion
    has taken on too many tasks. I believe he may slow down in
    his second term given that the Democrats will nominate a
    socialist loser.

  3. Roberta Conner says:

    I concur with the authors that a Democrat effort to impeach President Trump will increase his chances of re-election in 2020. However, I disagree with two of the authors’ premises.

    Legal scholars do not agree that President Trump committed an impeachable offense. Clearly, he cannot be said to have obstructed justice since no crime (collusion) was found to be committed. The authors grudgingly acknowledge that President Trump “…has been, many will feel, the victim of a concerted, heavy-handed effort to bring him down with false claims of conspiring with the Russians. They will wonder if there was, in fact, a so-called deep-state effort to reverse the results of the last election.”

    Are you kidding? There is absolutely no doubt in any reasonably intelligent voters’ minds that such “deep state” activity by the Clinton-inspired Democrats took place – perhaps on a scale approaching treason. I trust the authors will amend this article appropriately when the Inspector General and the DOJ investigations underway prove this fact.

    Finally, the false statement that, President Trump’s … use of emergency powers in the absence of emergencies is abusive of our system of government and our separation of powers” ignores the now universally-conceded fact that indeed, our swamped Southern border is enduring a state of real emergency.

    • In response to Ms. Conner: “Clearly” is almost always clearly questionable in statements of opinion. In fact, one can absolutely (even clearly) commit obstruction of justice when he or she is totally innocent of an alleged crime. The accused might not want to incur the cost of defense and try to induce a witness to commit perjury in order to curtail an investigation. The accused might suborn perjury to avoid the embarrassment of a trial even though he or she is innocent. In both examples, the accused would have committed obstruction of justice even though he or she was innocent of the alleged crime. One cannot tamper with a witness whether or not he or she is innocent or guilty.
      We will, indeed, cover the findings of the Inspector General and the DOJ with respect to the genesis of the Russian collusion investigation. As we have opined in a recent essay, the enormity of the investigation into collusion with the Russians relative to the paucity of any evidence of such collusion is a seismic event in the history of American politics.
      Finally, we question whether an emergency exists necessitating the massive unbudgeted sale of arms to Saudi Arabia without consulting the appropriate committees of Congress.

  4. Betty Wolf says:

    Whether people are pro or con Trump, they want substantive issues that matter to all addressed. The country is weary of the three “C’s”: criticize, condemn and complain. Unfortunately, turbulence – and the profound waste of time and our tax dollars – lies ahead for both sides with their respective smear campaigns. The impeachment distraction is unwise for our nation.

  5. m m kaback md says:

    It seems that many have forgotten that this country is a CONSTITUTIONAL Democracy. As such it is the House of Representative’s duty under the Constitution to INITIATE impeachment proceedings if sufficient indications (Mueller report) exist suggesting presidential misdemeanors or crimes. This may be the only way to hear from supoenaed witnesses and gain access to required documents which the White House is stonewalling. To hold such hearings is the SWORN responsibility of the House.

    • In response to M.Kaback: Our essay addresses what we believe the ramifications will be of a House of Representatives Impeach Trump movement. It remains to be seen whether the impending hearings are judged to be impartial fact-seeking investigations or political theater. We do not question the congressional propriety of investigating whether high crimes and misdemeanors have been committed by the President.

  6. Robert borns says:

    Short of war it’s trump again. We were at a party Friday night and I was telling a person why I liked trump. A well dressed woman at the bar in front of me turned and wispered that she agreed with everything I said. I called the last one for trump for the same reason. People like what trump says and does but the general media makes them ashamed to express their thoughts.

    • In response to Mr. Borns: We have not noticed any reluctance of people to express their thoughts regarding their political views in this political cycle. It seems to us that voters haven’t been this engaged or expressive since the provision of the Jay Treaty were made public in 1795.

  7. Janice Marcus says:

    I Agree with you Hal, people who hate trump are very expressive and engaged ..Mr Borns is also correct! .People who are pro President Trump are afraid to express themselves as they will be viewed by some as racist etc. I have experience the same thing as Mr. Born Describes. Come on Hal! Remember how wrong the polls were!

  8. mike says:

    I actually found the comments to be among the best I have seen in response to a column. Well written and reasoned without a lot of venting.

    I don’t support the obstruction of argument, but I also haven’t read the Mueller Report so I recognize that this opinion is based on perceptions and not the Report itself. That said, what I really want to see is what happens as a result of the Barr directed investigation in to the use of the Dossier with the FISA Court.

    As I listen to the Democrats protest Trump’s Executive Order declassifying material, I find it amusing that these same Democrats were demanding a full (a.k.a. unredacted) version of the Mueller report – all in the name of transparency. What it proved to me is these Democrats have no interest in learning what really happened; what they want is anything that can hurt Trump. And Republicans will do what they think they have to in order to protect truth.

    Truth is a casualty of this entire process.

    One final note, as I watch the Democrats and the mainstream media go after Trump’s Bank records and Tax Returns, I can’t help but wonder why they weren’t as passionate about trying to get access to Obama’s sealed records. Why is transparency only an issue when it can be used to attack Republicans?

  9. I’m afraid that the authors have made a hasty prejudical jump and unwarranted conclusion that Trump is impeachable due to his obstruction of justice. Let us not forget how Mueller’s investigations were carried out. Trump’s guilt lies in the biased eyes of the beholder and the Prosecutor. The eminent legal scholar Alan Dershowitz today reminded us of the biased unfair nature of the process and I quote from his article, “Remember that federal investigations by prosecutors, including special counsels, are by their very nature one sided. They hear only evidence of guilt and not exculpatory evidence. Their witnesses are not subject to the adversarial process. There is no cross examination. The evidence is taken in secret behind the closed doors of a grand jury. For that very reason, prosecutors can only conclude whether there is sufficient evidence to commence a prosecution. They are not in a position to decide whether the subject of the investigation is guilty or is innocent of any crimes.
    That determination of guilt or innocence requires a full adversarial trial with a zealous defense attorney, vigorous cross examination, exclusionary rules of evidence, and other due process safeguards. Such safeguards were not present in this investigation, and so the suggestion by Mueller that Trump might well be guilty deserves no credence.”

    This is the United States. A man is innocent until proven guilty!
    You would want to be judged by those same standards that have long safeguarded our freedoms.

    On another point, you castigate Trump for his tariff battles, yet other authorities including the NYT’s Foreign Affairs columnist Tom Friedman agrees with Trump’s China trade policy and that the President is right to go after Bejing.

    One must be careful not to state unsettled issues with such one-sided vehemence to make them appear as if they are indeed settled fact. They are after all just your opinion.

    • We suggest Dr. Silverstein reread our essay(s) on this subject. We agree that President Trump, like any other citizen, is entitled to be considered innocent until proven guilty. In fact, we have stated in previous essays that choosing not to prosecute President Trump would be, in our opinion, reasonable prosecutorial discretion under the circumstances that prevailed in the Russia investigation. None of that has anything to do with Congresses right to hold hearings based on the Mueller report, or to choose to impeach President Trump. We also opined that pursuing impeachment would be a mistake for the Democrats, politically.
      We agree with Dr. Silverstein that what we write represents only our opinion. We thought everyone knew that.

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