I’ve written about the process of impeachment, but today I want to talk a bit about my evolving stance on the timing of an impeachment process.
When the Democrats won the House, I knew that we’d finally have a check on the President, especially as the Republicans have refused to serve in that capacity. I then quickly grew to appreciate the other reason why having the House would be so important — hearings.
We know that any legislation we pass in the House has little to no chance to pass the Senate while Mitch McConnell leads the Senate and Trump is President. But, and this is big, with the Democrats leading the House, they can hold hearings on all kinds of things.
Beyond blockbuster hearings like Michael Cohen testifying, committee hearings can investigate problems or scandals in the federal agencies (anyone else want Sect. Nielsen to testify about the children being separated at the border?), and solicit expert opinion and information about legislation they’re considering.
Back to impeachment. Today, I read The Atlantic’s important piece, Impeach Donald Trump. You should take the time to read it. Trust me.
They make the argument that we should start the process of impeachment now. I’ve seen lots of pushback on this idea which takes the form of reminding everyone that when the Republicans started the impeachment process for Bill Clinton, not only did they not get a conviction, but his popularity soared afterwards.
I couldn’t tell you what would be the ultimate outcome if we impeached Trump. I haven’t a clue, but I’ve also been very concerned that history would repeat itself, and the Senate wouldn’t vote to convict him, and then not only would Trump still be in office but he’d be more popular.
But–and this is the angle I was missing that The Atlantic story provided–the impeachment process is valuable, right now, because of the hearings.
Impeachment is a process, not an outcome, a rule-bound procedure for investigating a president, considering evidence, formulating charges, and deciding whether to continue on to trial.
The debate about whether or not Trump is fit to continue serving as the President cannot happen in the newsroom, or in newspapers, or on social media, or in casual conversations precisely because none of those platforms can do anything once coming to a conclusion. But Congress can.
People on both sides of the aisle think Trump is harming our democracy. Impeachment hearings will allow the American people to all hear the same charges and the evidence to support them. We may not all come to the same conclusion, but at least we would all be dealing with the same set of facts and information.
Just as I was coming to this conclusion, the news hit that Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the Moscow Tower project. That sealed the deal for me. Let’s do this.