I am old enough that I watched the Nixon Impeachment and the Clinton Impeachment. In both cases, it was hard to argue that there was not evidence of misuse of office. That evidence was marshalled by serious people in a set of televised hearings which, regardless of which “side” you were on, underscored the gravity of the accusations and the procedural, if not political, propriety of the process. In each case, there was a formal vote in the House of Representatives to commence the proceedings. The minority party was granted its full rights to put its side of the case.
This does not appear to be the intent in the Impeachment of Donald Trump. For details, it is well worth reading Sundance at The Conservative Treehouse.
This time out, the Democratic majority in the House seems willing to proceed on the allegations of an unidentified “whistleblower” who claims to have been told by others that Trump exerted pressure on the Ukrainian government to investigate Crowdstrike and whether or not Joe Biden exerted pressure (as he said he did) on the Ukrainian government to fire its Prosecutor who was looking into the affairs of a company which had hired Biden’s son, Hunter, for $50,000 a month to be a director on a Board which rarely met.
Trump – unlike Nixon or Clinton – believes that he has done nothing wrong and has released notes on the call as well as the whistleblower’s complaint. People will see what they want to see in these documents but there is a distinct absence of the smoking gun.
Which, apparently, does not matter to the Democrat majority in the House. Impeachment is a political act and the Democrats are apparently willing to use their majority to pass Articles of Impeachment irrespective of whether they in any way disclose a high crime or misdemeanour. The quaint legalisms of evidence, witnesses and actual misconduct have been thrown aside in an all out political hit on Trump.
I don’t think it will work. Partially for the reasons outlined by Conrad Black in his brilliant piece on why Trump will win big in 2020, partially because there is no public appetite for Impeachment.
With Nixon and, to a lesser degree, Clinton the public was scandalized by the President’s behaviour in office. With Trump, “un-Presidential” behaviour has already been priced in. Leaning on the Ukrainians, properly or improperly, is unlikely to fire up public indignation in the same way as a massive cover-up of a two-bit crime or Presidential blow jobs did. It’s a tough world and Trump is willing to throw America’s weight around. For his base this is a plus, for a significant majority of Americans it is very likely a non-issue, for Democratic partisans, it is just one more “outrage” in a string of outrages going back to Trump putting ketchup on his steak.
Impeachment is political and if Trump and his people are smart they are going to make it very costly for Democrat Representatives in areas where Trump is strong to turn up on the day the Articles of Impeachment are presented for a vote. This is good old retail politics. Taking the Trump rally machine into marginal Democratic districts and calling out the Representative. Astro-turfing the hell out of their emails and phone lines. Cutting deals with those Democrats one by one so that Pelosi gradually sees her majority dwindle and, perhaps, disappear entirely. (And Trump now has a pretty good idea of how to work with the US Senate and hold the 33 Republicans he needs to simply crush the Impeachment.)
This is the sort of straight, counter punching, fight Trump is good at. It gives him licence to let loose on the Democratic “leadership” for wasting the country’s time and not doing their legislative jobs. Trump will treat his Impeachment as a campaigning opportunity. He’ll be able to do this because the Democrats are proceeding with such an obviously political, obviously bad faith, evidence-free, hatchet job.
The consequence of the Democrat’s phoney Impeachment will, at a minimum, be the end of the Biden campaign and a huge reduction in interest in the ongoing Democrat Presidential Campaign. It will highlight the radicalization of the Democratic Party.
Trump’s road to victory in 2020 became a lot smoother when Pelosi’s intelligent, politically astute, resistance to Impeachment collapsed in the face of a confected complaint of the purest hearsay about Presidential actions which a large part of the country, now that they know about them will likely support.
Plus, and this is when it gets fun for Trump, between now and Christmas, there will be an Inspector General’s Report on the mis-use of FISA warrants to surveil the Trump campaign, the case against General Flynn will likely collapse and at least a few of the people involved in the ongoing FBI/DOJ/IC campaign against Trump will be indicted. With luck, some of those will cut deals to implicate higher-ups and, by Spring, the whole scummy Obama administration will be in the frame.
Trump will be insufferable and will ruthlessly mock the dim Democrats who thought this thin gruel would power a serious Impeachment.