Apr 20 2019
12:42 pm

Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic at Lawfare 4/20/19
The Mueller Report Demands an Impeachment Inquiry

Though hard questions remain about whether President Trump should be impeached and whether the evidence would be sufficient for the Senate to convict him, these are not questions that need to be answered at this stage. Congress’s responsibility at this point is to begin an impeachment inquiry as a means of finding an answer to them. And Mueller has provided more than enough information to justify initiating an inquiry: the report sets out evidence of possible criminal wrongdoing by the president during his time in office related to abuse of power, which is at the dead center of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” impeachment is designed to check. Though most scholars agree that violating the law is not necessary for impeachment, Congress included allegations of such conduct in articles of impeachment against Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton—all three times the legislature seriously contemplated impeaching the president. In Nixon and Clinton’s case, the articles specifically concerned criminal behavior, including obstruction of justice. What’s more, the Mueller report itself suggests a possible hook for impeachment in indicating that the “corrupt intent” necessary for an obstruction offense would also violate the president’s obligation to “faithfully execute” the laws under the Take Care Clause.

In the face of this evidence, for Congress to not even consider impeachment as a matter of serious inquiry is to declare that the legislature is not interested in its carrying out its institutional obligations as a coordinate branch of government.

Ezra Klein at Vox 4/19/19
The problem with impeachment

Absent public support for impeachment, and amid a strong economy, it would give the White House an opportunity to run the playbook Bill Clinton ran so successfully in the 1990s: Here’s Trump, focusing on economic growth, and there are the Democrats, focusing on their doomed vendetta against the president.

This is a strategy that would unite Republicans and split Democrats, and if Trump won using it, then the harm to American democracy would be incalculable. I think it’s a mistake for liberals to wave that prospect away.

This brings us back to the question of elections, the frontline mechanism of democratic accountability. Behind some of these arguments is a fear, I think, that the American public doesn’t care enough about the rule of law to protect it themselves in the next election. After all, Democrats didn’t run on Mueller in 2018, and there’s no evidence they want to run on his findings in 2020, either. Will all this really go unpunished? What if Trump then wins reelection?

Mike Knapp's picture

Jamil Smith in RS

The Time for Impeachment Is Here

If Democrats were smarter, they would understand that initiating the impeachment of Trump might actually galvanize their base because it would demonstrate that leadership was willing to take the obvious, the logical and the constitutional step once presented with such an abundance of evidence. They would grasp that the visual of their party standing up to a president wedded equally to corruption and to his assortment of bigotries would be appealing to an electorate where black voters are increasingly driving the conversation. Democrats would seize upon the Mueller Report as a flashpoint for organization and recruitment, rather than take the task of prosecution that the Constitution assigned to Congress, hand it off to voters and call that “democracy.” It is up to us as citizens to choose our elected officials, not to do their jobs for them.

bizgrrl's picture

Wouldn't impeachment come to

Wouldn't impeachment come to a screeching halt in the Republican-controlled Senate?

Wouldn't it be better to spend the time and effort on getting Democrats elected in 2020?

Yes, he is a horrible president and person. We need him gone, but the time it would take to attempt an impeachment will drastically affect the elections.

With Pelosi and Democratic controlled house, hopefully he can be controlled until he is voted out. Then maybe one of the courts can convict him of something.

Just some thoughts.

Mike Daugherty's picture

Everything you said makes

Everything you said makes sense and one side of me agrees. It would take 67 Senators to convict and remove and it would take a miracle for 20 Republican Senators to have enough guts to join the 47 Democrats and kick him out. I know Congress today is a lot different than it was during Watergate. It did take almost two years from the time of the Watergate break in until Nixon resigned when faced with impeachment. When information kept dripping out about Nixon's corruptness and the tapes revealed a scheming President who thought he was above the law, the public gradually turned against him. The loss of public support gave Congress what they needed to stand against him. If evidence of Trump's corruptness continues to expose him for the crook he is, maybe the public will surprise us an support impeachment. Of course, by not impeaching Trump the Democratic House would be doing just like the Republicans by not having the guts to do the right thing. They would not being doing their duty and upholding the Constitution and the oath they took because it would hurt their chances in next year's elections. Sometimes the best causes are the lost causes and even though we do not win the battle, we can win the war. As Lincoln said "Right makes might". Impeachment is the right and honorable course of action.

WhitesCreek's picture

Republicans brought impeachment actions against Clinton

Knowing full well he would not be removed from office. It won them a galvanized base, regardless.

Democrats must move forward on hearings and then impeachment hearings if charges prove true. The Constitution requires it.

Mike Daugherty's picture

Members of Congress take an

Members of Congress take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Over the past two years, Republicans in Congress have made the decision that not offending their corrupt an immoral President is in the best interest for their political future. Making the moral and right decision of speaking out against Trump's corruption does not matter to them. All Congressional members, whether they are Republican or Democrat or Independent have a duty and obligation to speak out and vote against a President that has committed impeachable offenses. Any reasonable person can look at Trump's actions and what has been exposed about his obstruction and deceit in the Mueller report and conclude he deserves impeachment. At this point, political considerations should not be considered. Deciding whether to impeach based on that decision effecting a member of Congress being re-elected is wrong and goes against the Constitution. The only thing that should be considered is if the President has been involved in activities that deserve impeachment. The establishment of precedent is important. If President Obama, or President Bush, or President Hillary Clinton had been guilty of the same offenses Trump has committed, they would have already been impeached and removed.

bizgrrl's picture

Obama, Clinton, maybe. Bush

Obama, Clinton, maybe. Bush not so much.

Mike Daugherty's picture

Maybe you are right, but the

Maybe you are right, but the Republicans in Congress have changed since the Nixon era and even since Bush. The majority of Republican Senators would have voted to remove Nixon. Howard Baker might not have had the best voting record but he did have the moral decency to stand up against a corrupt President. Nixon was corrupt and needed to be removed. Trump is much worse than Nixon!

fischbobber's picture

Nixon's conviction

I'm pretty sure Nixon would have been convicted by the Senate. But I don't think it was a republican/democrat thing. I think it was an accountability thing. Voting for a Nixon acquittal would have been political suicide for the far right.

I think Blackburn will shill for Trump.

I think we have some East Tennessee representatives that will shill for Trump, but I also think we have some some aren't necessarily locked into the strategy. No one wants to buy a ticket on the Titanic. Everyone in East Tennessee knows a diabetic. Trump specifically, as well as those loyal to him are actively engaged in killing off diabetics. Once the House expands the investigation to Trumps corruption from Russian interference in the election, evidence will be laid on the table.

There is enough evidence to impeach, and pass it on to the Senate, right now. There may or may not be enough evidence to convict. In addition, one cannot disqualify a Senator for prejudice or cause. But, a quid pro quo vote by a Senator is a crime that will go to civilian court. A kangaroo court will ultimately be judged by the citizens. I think this could get interesting.

fischbobber's picture

Earlier tonight.......

On a thread seeking opinions and input on the Tn.GOP fake twitter account.......

"It's a pretty neat specific, from a local hacker standpoint, but you have to remember that Robert Mueller's standard as a special prosecutor is not beyond reasonable doubt, it is absolute certainty. What that means in terms of a collusion charge is this, he has to have absolute, incontrovertible evidence, at every juncture , that there was an agreed upon quid pro quo, and once it was determined that Donald Trump Jr. was too stupid to be held accountable, we would have to get it from the Russians in order for Mueller to act. There is probably enough to convict Trump, beyond reasonable doubt, in a civilian court right now. But, one does not try a president in civilian court. One has an impeachment, a fitness hearing if you will, process at which point the House of Representatives determines if the President should be tried by the Senate. The Senate has the power to determine whether or not to convict the president of the charges thereby removing him from office. Any quid pro quo between Trump and Pence, i.e." I'll resign and you can pardon me" is illegal, I believe. There is a lot of this kind of stuff in the evidence. Lots of crimes have been committed. Just because it's misclassified initially, and is a different crime than what it originally looked like it was, doesn't make it any less a crime. I think you have to move forward with the investigation, regardless of whether you think you can convict in the Senate. Once Trump is out of office either soon, in two, or in six years, civilian criminal standards go in effect. We are living in interesting times. Should impeachment proceed and evidence of criminal, corrupt, or unethical behavior be exposed, and not acted upon, our system of government operates under the premise that ultimately balance will be restored via the polls. I think we're fixing to see if our constitution still works."

fischbobber's picture

Final thoughts.......

I hope, if there is an impeachment committee, that Representative Burchett has the appropriate clearances and gets a chance to participate. I also hope that he takes his personal integrity seriously. I know he knows the difference between right and wrong, and I hope he acts appropriately.

fischbobber's picture

Post script / betters odds

Over/ under on a six years spread that Trump is on foreign soil if/when Senate convicts and he immediately asks for asylum because he claims America's first impeachment conviction is a coup.

calloway1972's picture

Awesome post

Democrats are on cruise control to lose both the House and the Presidency in 2020.

No one cares about any of this.

fischbobber's picture

Speaking of odds......

Why don't we have a friendly wager on whether or not anyone cares.

There are a lot of Democrats looking up right now saying, "Wait, what? Really? Really? This is what they got? Hell, f***, yeah. You know, we can win. I'm in."

And there are a lot of republicans looking up right now...that are disgusted.

Mike Daugherty's picture

Actually, millions of

Actually, millions of Americans do care. It is sad that you think everybody accepts lying and being corrupt and having no sense of human decency as normal behavior. I hope one day you will realize how much suffering Trump has caused, and unlike Trump, you will be able to ask to be forgiven for your misguided support of a corrupt and immoral leader who has caused so much damage and harm to our people and our democracy. I hope you will eventually understand how wrong you have been and that you will be forgiven. You and others that have been misled by an evil and twisted man like Donald Trump, need the prayers of our nation's people.

WhitesCreek's picture

You remind me of Chris

You remind me of Chris Mathews. Always wrong, never in doubt.

Rachel's picture

IMO, Trump's financial

IMO, Trump's financial dealings and the SDNY (or maybe the New York state courts) are going to do him in the minute he leaves office.

Perry Aubric's picture

Impeachment is a Bad Idea

Well, Trump deserves to be impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate and removed from office and sent to prison, but...

It's wasted effort, since the amoral, self-centered cowards in the Republican Party of the Senate will never vote to convict him. And even if they did, we have Pence. Who's a right wing nut job, too.

Look, the best way to handle Trump and his goose stepping racist/fascist followers is to beat them at the polls. And the best way to do that is to nominate a candidate who can actually beat him. And get the voters to the polls. Democrats managed not to do that last time.

Democrats put too much hope into the Special Counsel investigation. And now they are putting too much hope in winning by just saying, "Hey, Trump's bad." That's only part of the message, and shouldn't even be the main part. The Democratic nominee needs to make it clear that Democrats have more to offer politically, socially, economically, internationally, environmentally, and militarily that the current incompetent, corrupt, ignorant and inept Administration. And the Republicans have sold the American people a bill of goods, playing them for chumps.

fischbobber's picture

I'm pretty sure.

If and maybe as importantly as when, an official inquiry for grounds of impeachment is approved in the House, if the House can't or won't find overwhelming evidence and if they won't share their findings with the citizens, then there is no chance that Trump will be impeached.

If, on the other hand, everyone just does their job, just does their job, we'll all have a pretty good idea of whether or not impeachment is warranted.

Once it gets to the Senate, look at the election cycle. The majority of the senators that are in both the first and second election cycles will be banking winners and losers. If there is an obvious line of guilt and can't be ignored, I think there's a pretty good possibility that Senators would vote the evidence instead of the party. Likewise with a frame job. This will be high drama. It will be on radio all day, as well as TV.

I swear, I think Trump will end up leaving America and seeking asylum for what he claims are political motives.

Finally, it always makes me chuckle when someone who doesn't share my views, advises me to change it to his so he will legitimize my view in return. While I must admit, you had some points, and I'm with you brother, but right now, it's time to figure out whether or not an impeachment is in order. We are past the point of misdemeanors and the house is certainly justified in looking into high crimes. If the inquiry shows that impeachment is not in order, then don't impeach.

Mike Knapp's picture


An Open Memo: Comparison of Clinton Impeachment, Nixon Impeachment and Trump Pre-Impeachment

In 1973 and 1974, the Democrats attacked a once-mighty but now badly weakened president with a strong case for impeachment. Nixon resigned.

In 1998 and 1999, the Republicans attacked a mightily popular president on a political upswing in his second term with a politically contrived and feeble case for impeachment. Republicans lost.

In 2019, the Democrats confront the weakest president in modern history with a stronger case for impeachment than the one against Nixon.

Mike Knapp's picture

Impeachment Is a Refusal to Accept the Unacceptable

Quinta Jurecic in The Atlantic is spot-on here.
Impeachment Is a Refusal to Accept the Unacceptable

The Constitution is what Camus would call a “closed universe”—a space of “coherence and unity” in an incoherent world, in which words carry weight and actions have consequences. Trump’s disrespect for the law is a reminder of how fragile that structure of meaning can be. For that reason, there is a real service in using impeachment proceedings to push back against the notion that, in the parlance of the internet, “lol nothing matters.”


Gerald Ford, as a member of the House of Representatives, argued in 1970 that an impeachable offense is “whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” He was not wrong that impeachment is a political process; it is, after all, entrusted to Congress. To treat the subject as an entirely political calculation, though—as Ford did and as Pelosi appears to be doing now—is to slouch toward nihilism. Treating the words high crimes and misdemeanors as if they hold real significance, however, is a way of protesting that the world should not be as it inevitably is.

This is perhaps overly earnest. But there is a real humanity and purity of purpose in asserting earnestness against the void.

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