Senate Dems: Yeah, let’s not get into impeachment


Impeachment? Senate Democrats would rather change the subject, The Hill’s Alexander Bolton discovered after talking it over with a few of them. Their answer for public consumption is that it’s just too soon after Robert Mueller’s investigation to get a grip on what the specific basis for impeachment might be:

Senate Democrats are putting the brakes on impeachment chatter in the House, cautioning that lawmakers need to do more work before even thinking about moving forward on the issue.

A number of steps should be taken before there can be a serious discussion about impeaching President Trump, including hearing testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller, say several Senate Democrats.

Privately, they have more concern over history — and the upcoming election:

Senate Democrats say there’s not enough public support to push ahead with impeachment without the danger of it backfiring — just as they say it did for Republicans in 1998 when they impeached then-President Clinton.

One senior Democrat, who requested anonymity to speak freely about the impeachment calls, noted that Democrats picked up seats in the House after Republicans impeached Clinton.

They certainly can’t have missed the cacophony of constituent voices not talking about Russiagate, the Mueller report, or impeachment. If the New York Times and Politico notice the dogs that aren’t barking, it’s a safe bet that Beltway Democrats have been alerted to their non-presence. For voters outside the DC-media bubble, the Mueller report closed out the question of impeachment; if Trump didn’t corrupt the 2016 election, then he won and Hillary Clinton lost, as simple as that.

And even if Democrats have overlooked the anecdotal reporting from their colleagues’ town halls around America, their staffs must certainly have shown them the latest polling on the subject of impeachment. Bolton mentions the 37/56 Washington Post/ABC poll result, but NPR/Marist has a new survey out today with nearly identical results:

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Most Democrats want impeachment hearings to begin now that special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted findings are public, but that idea is still unpopular overall, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

The results come as national Democratic Party leaders and 2020 presidential candidates are grappling with how to approach an issue that could ignite base voters but alienate a section of more moderate America. …

Seven in 10 Democrats want Congress to begin impeachment hearings based on the findings in Mueller’s report, but just 39% of Americans overall think impeachment hearings are the correct next step.

Oh, it’d ignite “base voters” for sure, but whose base voters? Let’s game this out. Even if the House managed to pass articles of impeachment — which isn’t a given after the collapse of the Russia-collusion hypothesis — Democrats would need at least 20 Senate Republicans to remove Trump. They’ll get precisely zero of them on the basis of the Mueller report, which will mean the whole attempt will be worthless, yet another example of partisan warfare in the DC “swamp.” Democrats’ base voters will remain frustrated, but Republican base voters will be outraged — and highly motivated for payback. Add in the independents (40/51) who will see this as an abuse of power and a reckless attempt to nullify a legitimate election, and suddenly this does look like a trap set up by Trump.

Senate Democrats want their House counterparts to go slow and build a case, but that’s not for impeachment, let alone removal. They want to build a case for the 2020 election. That’s the legitimate way to get rid of an unpopular incumbent that hasn’t actually committed any “high crimes and misdemeanors,” especially one who got cleared of accusations of foreign influence by an independent investigation. If Trump’s not a Russian agent, then Democrats need to find some other basis to oppose him in the next election. Impeachment makes Democrats look electorally impotent, or at least it makes it seem as if they think they’re electorally impotent.

In short: if you want to “save democracy,” engage in it rather than overthrowing legitimate elections. Move on. 

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