Impeach Trump, or read the impeachment clause out of the Constitution

Americans, if they are following the Trump saga at all, or drawing on sources other than Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, seem to be caught up in  a TV crime drama, a series with daily episodes, where they themselves are called upon to put together the pieces of or at least to follow a breathtaking crime drama where the principal suspect is the President of the United States.  It is an engrossing drama.

What makes watching or even trying not to watch this drama particularly painful is that the evidence of the President’s crimes, like that of his incompetence, and that of his corruption and malevolent intentions, lies in plain view.  Not only is he a scoundrel, but he has attracted around him a slew of scoundrels, a sad group of public “servants” and advisers who seem hell bent on not protecting and promoting the welfare of ordinary people, but rather on dismantling the protections that have been put in place over many years to ensure that we have a “government…for the people”.

In these circumstances we must ask, “Why has Donald Trump not yet been impeached?

The Democrats appear lost in their own morass of political calculations.  If the House impeached Trump, how would that affect their election prospects in 2020?

While Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders may have been shrewd to avoid the issue of impeachment in the 2018 Congressional elections, it does not follow that such a strategy is wise or promising going forward.

What is the argument, now, against holding hearings in the House on impeachment, like the Watergate hearings that were held in 1973-74?

The problem with the Democrats’ current approach is that the kind of hearings they are currently scheduling are likely to drag out—perhaps for a year or more—and then it will be too late for them to have an impact on the 2020 elections.

Moreover, the current approach lacks a central goal and focus, which should be to put together the arguments and evidence to support the impeachment of Donald Trump, for what is already publicly known and for further “high crimes and misdemeanors” which may be discovered in the impeachment investigations and hearings.

If the Democrats delay impeachment hearings for a year, the debate in the 2020 campaigns is likely to be about whether such hearings should be held at all.  If they are started now, on the other hand, the debate is much more likely to be about the crimes and actions of Donald Trump.

To put the matter is sharp perspective, we must ask whether failure to impeach Donald Trump for the “high crimes and misdemeanors” that are already on the record and in full view would amount, for all intents and purposes, to reading the impeachment clause out of the Constitution.

Polls suggest that 40% or so of the electorate are not following or thinking seriously about, or are readily acquiescing in, the crimes and other morally depraved actions of President Trump.

By holding impeachment hearings, the Democrats in the House have an opportunity to educate the citizenry about the facts, explained in coherent narratives, of Trump’s “high crimes and misdemeanors”.

If they fail to initiate impeachment hearings, and very soon, they may find that Trump’s war on the truth will have succeeded in confusing voters to such an extent that he wins the election again.

Democrats should not delude themselves into believing that the rest of the country shares their views of the President.  Trump is a brilliant reality show host and performer, and a brilliant communicator on the emotional level that drives citizens to vote one way or another. He is a brilliant propagandist, and has a charismatic personality.

Can a reality show host and charismatic performer be re-elected?  Consider this:  there is considerable evidence to suggest that American politics, on the national level, have become very much like a reality show.

In 2020, if the American people are not forced to confront the specifics of his actions and behavior in impeachment hearings, and are not thereby educated as to the truth, Trump can win again.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, The Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, The Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.