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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes – Impeachment Edition

WaPo columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. shares some insights on impeaching Trump: “There is nothing positive for Trump in the readout, which ratified House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to open a formal impeachment inquiry. “It’s interesting that the White House would release this thinking it would help the president,” Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) said in an interview. “They’re so far down the path of corruption that they wouldn’t see how it implicates the president.”…That the Ukraine allegations abruptly and fundamentally altered the politics of impeachment means that House Democrats need to act in a precise, expeditious and disciplined way. Battles over who has jurisdiction over what, lengthy arguments over what should and should not be included in the articles of impeachment, personality clashes — none of these should complicate action on what is now a clear-cut case involving a deplorable abuse of power…This is why many swing-district Democrats who had been reluctant to endorse a path to impeachment are now open to acting…This new clarity of mission is why Pelosi’s announcement Tuesday came as such a relief. Democrats on both sides of the impeachment question were never in doubt about the depth of Trump’s venality, but they did not expect him to hand them so much ammunition to make their case. They dare not let internal politics get in the way of performing their duty.”

In his post, “If This Is Trump’s Best Case, The Ukraine Scandal Is Looking Really Bad For Him” at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver writes, “As far as polling evidence for how the public feels about Ukraine, there isn’t much of it, but there is some, and it isn’t great for Trump. A YouGov poll on Tuesday asked voters how they’d feel about impeachment if Trump “suspended military aid to Ukraine in order to incentivize the country’s officials to investigate his political rival”; 55 percent of voters supported impeachment in that case, 26 percent opposed it. The problem is that, so far, the delay in military aid has not been proven to be related to Trump’s requests of Zelensky on Biden.1 We don’t know how much that matters to the American public. Hopefully, pollsters will ask voters different versions of questions about impeachment over Ukraine that can test the importance of the quid pro quo. Meanwhile, polling from Reuters/Ipsos suggests that while relatively few Americans knew much about the Ukraine scandal before today, those who had heard of it were more supportive of impeachment.”

More than half the House of Representatives support impeachment inquiry,” CNN Politics reports. “There are at least 218 House Democrats — according to a CNN count — who publicly stated support for impeachment proceedings. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a former Republican who has since become an independent, has also called for an impeachment investigation, bringing the total number of representatives to 219, or just over half of the 435-member chamber…Reaching the halfway mark on this issue is a significant development as a majority of the House would be needed to vote to impeach the President in order to send the process to the Senate…there has been a surge in support — more than 75 House members in about three days — of launching such an inquiry… However, CNN’s count includes many Democrats who say they support an impeachment investigation but are still waiting for the results of the probe before deciding whether to finally vote to impeach Trump.”

NYT columnist Thomas B. Edsall makes the case that “economic decline was — and is — a compelling factor in generating conservative hostility to social and cultural liberalism.” Edsall mines data from scholars writing at Brookings, the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology and the European Journal of Social Psychology, to conclude that “The relative material deprivation of many Republican voters that continued into the first two years of the Trump administration reinforces their sustained dedication to Trump, even as the regions of the country where they disproportionately live fall further behind.” In addition, “Conversely, the exceptional success in 2018 of Democratic House candidates in well-to-do, highly educated, formerly Republican districts suggests that Democrats gain from prosperity.” And “As the 2020 election approaches, we can expect Trump not to be deterred by the prospect of impeachment. He will embrace it…he is willing to gamble on his ability to profit from a climate of chaos and threat, to rely on ever-present sense of crisis to fortify and expand his base.”

Sean Collins has “5 questions Attorney General William Barr should answer about Trump’s call with President Volodymyr Zelensky” at Vox. Collins writes that “Barr’s statements to Congress, particularly those he gave during May testimony about his handling of the release of the Mueller report, have many Democrats concerned the attorney general will attempt to shield the president from inquiries — including a recently launched impeachment inquiry — into potential wrongdoing and that he will refuse to investigate the allegations Trump faces.” The questions include: “1. Did President Trump discuss a Biden-Ukraine investigation with Barr?…2. Did William Barr mislead Congress?…3. Is the Department of Justice protecting Trump?…4. Does William Barr believe a president is above the law or immune to outside scrutiny?…5. Will William Barr recuse himself from upcoming DOJ investigations?”

At The American Prospect, Paul Starr probes a question of growing consequence for Democrts, “Is It Too Late to Impeach Trump?” Starr writes, “Even now, Democrats do not have strong electoral reasons to impeach Trump. Impeachment may not work out to their political advantage; a failed impeachment is not necessarily a good start to an election campaign to oust an incumbent. But, come what may, they have to proceed for the only reasons that truly justify impeaching and convicting a president—the defense of America’s constitutional system and its national security…By attempting to use a foreign power to win election a second time, Trump has forced even reluctant Democratic congressional leaders to move ahead on impeachment. It was bad enough that Trump escaped consequences for the efforts in his 2016 campaign to secure help from Russia and for his solicitousness as president to Vladimir Putin. Another such failure of our constitutional system, this time in connection with Ukraine, would only further embolden Trump to use the formidable powers of the presidency to entrench himself in office…If it becomes standard procedure in the United States, this will be a very different country from what we thought it was.”

Also at The American Prospect, Robert Kuttner writes, “The people who said that impeachment would be a distraction from the 2020 election were wrong, both before Trump’s Ukraine gambit, and even more so now. The 2020 election is about many things, but foremost among them are Trump’s abuse of office and the rule of law. Impeachment brings that front and center…Skeptics also argued that the Republican-controlled Senate would never vote to convict, so why bother? This is also wrong. As public opinion moves, so does Senate opinion. It will be very salutary for Democrats to put Senate Republicans on the defensive, as they try to excuse the indefensible…Republicans were contemptuous of Trump in 2016, and their loyalty to him is purely expedient and transactional. If he becomes seen as fatally damaged goods, that loyalty could evaporate…We are into a new act of this farce. It took Trump to give Democrats a backbone, but we will now see a newly emboldened Democratic House and a whole new dynamic.”

However, in his Daily Beast post, “Dems Worry Rudy Would Send Impeachment Hearing Off the Rails,” Sam Brodey warns that Giulani’s likely appearance before congress could create a circus-like distraction. “If Congress is to get to the bottom of President Trump’s efforts to get the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, Rudolph W. Giuliani is an obvious choice for the witness list…But Democrats are split as to whether he would do more harm than good to their nascent impeachment inquiry and some expressed concern that hauling a loose cannon like Giuliani in front of a committee would risk a replay of the circus-like atmosphere created by Trump loyalist and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski—a scene few Democrats are eager to recreate…Democrats are already well aware of the challenge presented by a loose cannon Trumpworld figure, and they still feel burned by Lewandowski. The former Trump campaign manager’s combative five-hour session before the House Judiciary Committee on Sept. 17 amounted to a massive middle finger to Democrats, who afterward privately panned the hearing as a disaster…Given Giuliani’s track record of theatrics and his fierce loyalty to the president, some Democrats worry that his testimony wouldn’t contribute to legitimate fact-finding but rather turn Democrats’ sober-minded mission into a complete circus—as well as slow down an impeachment proceeding that nearly all Democrats believe needs to be completed with the utmost speed.”

At The Nation, Jeet Heer presents “The Case for Keeping Impeachment Clean and Simple: Though Donald Trump has committed many crimes, best keep the focus tightly on the Ukrainian scandal,” and observes, “A quick impeachment is likely to be followed by the Republican Senate’s deciding Trump should not be removed. There might be a few GOP defections: Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado are the most likely to turn against Trump. Not nearly enough to reach the steep threshold of 67 votes. Still, such an impeachment would have made the essential point: Trump overstepped the rules of democracy…After a quickly executed impeachment, Democrats can return to other urgent political matters: choosing a presidential nominee and defeating Trump. The impeachment, if done narrowly and in a focused way, will then serve the cause of making the political case against Trump. A lengthy impeachment that looks at all his offenses could have the opposite impact: It might drain the political oxygen out of the presidential nomination process and impede the task of building an anti-Trump majority…Impeachment is both a legal and a political process. To have a politically effective impeachment, Democrats need to keep it clean, simple—and quick.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes – Impeachment Edition

  1. Victor on

    Impeach, but don’t let it suck the energy out of confronting Republicans as a party for the mismanagement of everything these past two decades.

    Also, once the House votes and the Senate acts (or doesn’t), move on.

    Impeachment is inherently undemocratic. This is why the founders require such a high supermajority. Let the voters make the ultimate choice.


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