Impeachment is a tricky question with myriad political outcomes. It is not a slam dunk in any direction by any means. Well, except for this tricky thing called the Constitution. Then it’s pretty clear-cut: President Trump deserves to go through an impeachment trial. Robert Mueller said so in his (hypocritical) press conference last week:
”Charging the president with a crime was an option we could not consider. If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not however make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime…The opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing.”
Translation: “if the president did not commit a crime, I would be telling you right now, as we speak, that the president did not commit a crime—but I cannot tell you that the president did not commit a crime—all I can say is what I said in the Mueller Report:”
With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.
The Constitution clearly states that Trump deserves to be impeached over obstruction of justice. Now, there are plenty of legitimate political arguments to make about the perils of traversing down this path, but this? This is not one of them. This is garbage to the power of garbage. Here is the title of galaxy-brained Fred Hiatt’s piece today at The Washington Post:
We knew who Trump was but elected him anyway. We can’t impeach him for that.
I can summarize my feelings about this entire piece with this famed scene from Billy Madison.
This column is filled to the brim with so many self-congratulatory straw men takes that it practically calls out to be fisked (an internet word for a column within a column about a column). As always, my unbridled rage has a white background, while this insipid nonsense is in grey.
Conventional wisdom on the left is jelling: President Trump deserves to be impeached. The only remaining questions are whether impeachment is tactically wise; and, if not, whether Congress is morally bound to proceed anyway.
No Fred, it is not a question as to whether Congress is morally bound to proceed anyway. Trump did something last week that was literally in President Nixon’s articles of impeachment. They are legally bound to impeach President Trump. This is why when asked whether or not Trump obstructed justice, Robert Mueller screamed “TALK TO CONGRESS!!!” then disappeared in a plume of smoke.
This ragescreed is going to be so painful to edit. I legitimately can’t even with what’s coming next.
In fact, our editorial board said as much when he was nominated in 2016. “Uniquely unqualified to serve as president,” we wrote. “A Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world.”
I think we’ve been proved right. But that is precisely the point: We thought his unfitness was evident before he was elected, and Americans chose him anyway. (No, he didn’t win the popular vote. But he won.) He is endangering the future of the planet — but we knew he was a climate denier. He ripped children from their parents at the border — but his racism and anti-immigrant animus, like his contempt for the Constitution, were no secrets.
To impeach him now for what the electorate welcomed or was willing to overlook isn’t the democratic response.
The right response is to defeat him in 2020.
I have a very simple question for every Democrat who believes that using an election to kick Trump out instead of a democratic process afforded to us by the Constitution is the best way forward: how are we going to credibly run on a “criminal president” platform in 2020 if we do not formally accuse him of crimes right now?
The second article of impeachment might be that Trump encouraged and benefited from foreign interference in the 2016 election. This, too, is unforgivable. But, again, the broad outlines were known before the election — he invited Russia’s help, he crowed about WikiLeaks’ publication of stolen Democratic emails — and, again, he was elected anyway.
Fred here goes even further than Mueller, and said that if Trump were guilty of the “collusion” crime that Mueller mostly cleared him on, it wouldn’t even be impeachable. Question for Fred: is there anything Trump could do that was impeachable? Or is he a de facto dictator in your eyes until 2020? If so, what makes you think that this de facto dictator will honor the results of an election?
I can’t take this anymore, I can feel my brain trying to override my eyelids to stop me from reading the rest of this nonsense and I’m worried I might have a stroke soon. Let’s fast forward through the next several paragraphs of dreck to the kicker and get this over with:
But Trump should not be impeached for inclinations, no matter how vile, that were not acted upon. He should not be impeached out of frustration with the pusillanimous failure of Republicans in the House and Senate to stand up for congressional prerogative and constitutional norms.
And Congress should think very hard before impeaching Trump for the high crime of being who we knew he was before we elected him.
Well I guess that answers my question for Fred then. When Trump theorized that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth avenue and not lose any support, I guess he had a point.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.