Pull Back on Impeachment Talk for Now
I use Reddit to get an idea of the popular stories going around right now. It’s far from the only source, but it is nice to see what some people are talking about if the traditional sources are not providing anything of interest. As a result, I end up commenting on a few stories, because it’s impossible to stop myself. A few comments I made recently ruffled some feathers, but I think they should have been rather harmless. An article was posted about President Trump, the comments that were most upvoted tended to be “impeach him,” which is a common refrain now. I had the audacity (I guess) to say that we should wait for hard evidence to present itself before trying to impeach someone. My comment was downvoted, and I was attacked.
This got me thinking though, what evidence do we really have? If we started impeachment proceedings tomorrow, would they work? I contend that we don’t actually know a lot and right now, any kind of impeachment attempt would fail miserably. You can’t impeach someone for being incompetent, otherwise we would have had very few Presidents finish their terms. (For everyone thinking Trump is the most incompetent, I would suggest you take a look from 1860s-1900ish in some history books. We had a president who just after winning the Civil War basically gave everything back to the South, and he might now have been the worst.)
Impeachment Claim 1: Flynn had Contact with the Russians
This is undeniable. He’s admitted it, and so have the people who would normally deny this one to the hilt. He’s been thoroughly thrown under the bus and then run over again just to make sure the bus hit him. What we don’t know is how deep his connections went, how much senior staff knew and whose instructions he was working on. With these questions still unanswered we can’t really use it as a reason that Trump should be impeached. Further, it looks like Michael Flynn is going to plead the 5th and not testify before congress. If this does in fact happen the amount that we can know is going to be pretty minimal and it’s a dead end, for right now.
Every President has had people under him who committed illegal acts. It’s almost impossible to have a clean staff when you employ that many people. Michael Flynn has one of the more high-profile cases, but one should wonder about the outside forces on that as well. As media becomes hungrier for stories, people are going to dig deeper. I find it nearly impossible to believe he is the first person to do something like this.
I know a lot of left wing people are going to say, “Obama warned him though!” This is true. Obama did warn Trump about Flynn on his way out, but this is also not grounds for impeachment. President Bush warned Obama about a lot of things on his way out, Obama ignored them and then after becoming President went back on a lot of his campaign promises. When you are an incoming president, it’s hard to believe everything you are being told from the person before you. Further, this election was exceptionally contentious, so it’s not like there was this great relationship there.
Impeachment Claim 2: Trump Worked with the Russians to Rig the Election
We are pretty sure that the Russian had an influence on our election. We are pretty sure at least some of Trump’s staff had contact with the Russians. What we don’t know is how those two are connected and to what degree. It’s likely we will have things become clearer as time goes on, but as of now we don’t really know a lot of concrete answers. As a result, we should be pretty careful about trying to impeach the President. To impeach the President, you need to win a criminal trial, not a civil trial. This means that the burden of proof is much higher to convict. As of now, there is more than a “preponderance of doubt” as to the link.
In fact, there is a lot of doubt about what Trump knew. It’s possible that he had many people working under him who were not telling him everything they were doing. While this is troubling, troubling doesn’t allow for grounds to be impeached. Troubling is a reason that the GOP will run behind to distance themselves from Trump during the 2018 election. Troubling is a reason that will be pointed to when Trump’s legislative agenda doesn’t get passed, but it’s hardly a reason to impeach him. It’s not criminal to not have control of your staff, it’s just incompetent.
Impeachment Claim 3: HE FIRED COMEY!
He did fire the FBI Director James Comey. James Comey was investigating him for his ties to Russia. This is about all we know right now. There is a memo, apparently, that says that Comey was asked by Trump to stop investigating. If this memo surfaces, then that is going to be the ball game. That is obstruction, and there is almost no way around that. The issue is that, that memo still hasn’t surfaced. So, until it does, it’s a story, but the news media being wrong over the past 8 years is hardly a new thing. This White House has been even worse about having “staffers” or “sources” telling the news media things that happen to not be true. This could be another one of those things, or it could be serious, but once again, it is unclear and you can’t impeach someone for things being unclear.
If I was the Democrats, I would not want this memo to come out, because I think that the Russia things might go much deeper. If this memo does come out though, the investigation into it will be cut short and this will just become the story. I don’t think that Trump is the only bought and paid for politician, and if we can investigate things further, then we will make sure we know exactly what is going on, at least to a better degree. It will mean for a slower impeachment proves, but I have written before that Trump’s legislative agenda is DOA.
Impeachment Claim 4: He’s not Presidential, and has lied to the American People!
Have you ever read the stories about LBJ? If you want someone who is not Presidential, that is a much better example. I combined both claims, because they normally are uttered in the same breath. Every President has lied, period. It’s kind of how politics sadly works at this point. You cherry pick statistics that really help your side and then pretend like what the others are offering up isn’t true and needs to be ignored. You make promises and then go back on almost all of them. Obama did it, Bush did it, Clinton did it. You can just continue that list all the way back to President Washington. I’m not saying it is right, but it’s not a reason to impeach someone. Nor is not acting presidential. We have had many people serve as President that are not Presidential. I’m not excusing Trump’s behavior, because I find it abhorrent, but I also don’t think we can get rid of him because it.
Impeachment Claim 5: You Just Listed 4 reasons, That’s more than Enough to Impeach Him.
No, no it’s really not. I understand that Trump is not a great President. In fact, I will listen to arguments he is going to be the worst when historians go back and look at his presidency. This is not enough to impeach someone, though. It is likely that some hard evidence will finally surface. It is very likely we will learn more about his links to Russia. However, until that happens we can’t move forward with impeachment.
Repercussions from Impeachment Proceedings
There are two major things to consider when trying to impeach a President that I don’t think enough people are paying attention to. The first is if you fail to get the votes to impeach, then you give momentum to the GOP. If it comes around and Trump is found not guilty, then the GOP is empowered, because the Democrats couldn’t find enough evidence to impeach and it just looks like a witch hunt. I know that we want quick justice in this go-go-go society, but some things take time. The Clinton investigation lasted 4 years before he was impeached, but not removed from office. Expecting Trump to be impeached in 4 months is hopeful at best, and most likely foolish. You need to give things time to happen, because we work in a system that is meant to be slow and meant to make sure we get the correct information. Imagine if court cases only took 4 months to happen, you would have a lot more not guilty people found guilty, because of lack of time to prepare.
The second thing that not enough people are respecting is what this will do to our economy and power on the world stage. We would recover from it in time, but this kind of upheaval can wreck an economy. South Korea recently experienced this with their president and the situation there was even more cut and dry than this. When impeachment proceedings happen, if they do, then it needs to be clear that the case is going to be quick and easy to understand. It needs to be clear to the American people, and World investors that this will not drag out and become a witch hunt. The more mystery that this is shrouded in, the more damage this will do to the American economy long-term.
I understand that many people want Trump to be impeached. I understand that many people hate him, but hating a president is not a reason that he should be impeached. Incompetence is also not a reason. If, or more likely when, hard evidence comes out pointing to Trump and his ties to Russia then we can go full force into impeachment proceedings. Until that point, let’s take a deep breath and really analyze what we do and don’t have. Right now, we have a lot of smoke, but not a lot of fire.