Allowing GOP Senators to Silently Veto Even the Start of an Impeachment Against Trump is Insane
Just about the only thing that nearly everyone involved in politics currently agrees on is that, if President Donald Trump was impeached by the House, the GOP-led Senate would, regardless of the factual record, never convict him. This is one of the increasingly rare occasions when the conventional wisdom in Washington is undoubtedly correct.
Obviously, the fact that all 53 Republican senators, sadly even Mitt Romney, are at least somewhat held hostage by Trump’s “Cult 45” support within the party, should be a significant factor in how, or if, impeachment against the president should proceed. Yet the concept, which has now gained a shocking level of acceptance within Congress on both the left and the right, that this reality should act as a total roadblock to even beginning the process, is completely insane and frankly rather dangerous.
Effectively, the GOP senators are being richly rewarded for being so completely in the tank for Trump that they would never even consider convicting of whatever charges might come out of the House, no matter how guilty Trump may actually be. Instead of being forced to vigorously defend their utter hypocrisy (especially those who are still there who voted to removed Bill Clinton from office for far less serious offenses) and gutlessness, they are currently be given a free pass, essentially a silent veto, without being forced to lift a finger, or even go on the record to use it.
In many ways, this upside-down thinking would be like a parent, knowing that their very stubborn child was never going to eat their vegetables, declaring openly that they weren’t even going to try to make that happen, and instead would allow them to go straight to dessert. That would obviously be absurd, extremely counterproductive, and set a very dangerous incentive for future bad behavior.
A more dramatic analogy would be to the infamous O.J. Simpson murder case, to which I have already compared the Trump/Russia scandal on multiple occasions. What if Simpson’s prosecutors, once they realized that they were going to get a majority black jury which was very unlikely to convict Simpson, just decided to not even bother trying to win the case, and instead let the very guilty football legend go free without even a trial?!
While there are obviously some key differences in those two situations (for instance, Simpson’s jurors didn’t have to run for reelection, though his chief prosecutor did), that is essentially what Democrats would be doing if they were intimidated into not even pursuing Trump’s impeachment because they were convinced that the jury—the Senate—was committed to nullifying the evidence. While Simpson was indeed acquitted by a very biased jury, the stigma of that fraudulent verdict has never remotely left Simpson and it eventually directly led to him going to jail for several years in a different, though somewhat related, case.
Similarly, when Clinton was impeached there was also no legitimate hope that enough Democrats in the Senate would vote to convict him, but that reality didn’t cause Republicans much hesitation at all, at least not in the House. Though not to the extent of Simpson, it should be pointed out that there were also long-term repercussions for Clinton at least partly due to his impeachment/acquittal, including the fact that the Clinton name was sullied enough that his wife later lost two presidential races in which she was a heavy favorite.
I totally get that at least part of Trump wants to be impeached. The reality TV producer in him would love the drama, and the egomaniac would enjoy forcing Republicans to defend him to the death. His inevitable “victory” speech when it was all over would be excruciating to watch.
However, those factors should not necessarily determine whether impeachment goes forward. Currently, Trump is obviously using the Democrats hesitancy to go down this path against them by actively refusing to even acknowledge the right of Congress to conduct legitimate oversight of the presidency, possibly as way of forcing Democrats into impeaching him.
There is no question that Democrats are in a tough position politically, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who appears to be dead-set against moving forward with impeachment, even as her caucus increasingly favors it, may be overthinking the whole issue. In my view, a robust but ultimately unsuccessful effort to remove Trump from office, while somewhat risky, would most likely be a political tie.
Providing a proper forum for the devastating evidence against him to be more widely disseminated would energize the Democratic base while not being at all helpful to Trump’s reelection efforts, and it would force Republican Senators running for reelection in purple states (there are at least four of them) into particularly uncomfortable positions. It is also a myth that Republicans suffered greatly at the ballot box in the aftermath of the impeachment of Clinton, who was far more personally popular than Trump is.
Sometimes when faced with a difficult call it is best to simply do the right thing and let the chips fall where they may. Letting Republican senators get to have their cake and eat it too, all because they have decided to ignore the truth and their previous principles, would clearly not be the “right” thing for Democrats to do.
There are still some legitimate reasons for Democrats to hesitate to impeach Trump, but the zombie-like state of Republicans in the Senate should not be one of them.
John Ziegler is a senior columnist for Mediaite. He hosts a weekly podcast focusing on news media issues and is documentary filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigManFreud or email him at email@example.com
[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.