The Case for Impeachment
The Democratic Party is in danger of blowing an enormous opportunity while emboldening lawless behavior and inviting more attacks from foreign adversaries. It is crucial that House Democratic leadership, with assistance from Senate Democrats and presidential candidates, announce that they are moving forward with impeachment hearings.
The political risks to doing so espoused by pundits and older Democrats who are unable to view the current situation through any lens that doesn’t include Bill Clinton’s 1990s impeachment trial are vastly outweighed by the risks of doing nothing or being perceived as doing nothing.
Many people in Washington — Democrats, media — spent the last two years thinking and hoping Robert Mueller would make the hard choices for them. He didn’t. So it’s on us.
If we fail to stand up to this behavior right now at this critical juncture, then we are dooming ourselves to a future where American democracy is fair game and under constant attack from hostile nations that want to pick their own American president.
Why we must impeach: We have already seen Trump and his top aides try to dismiss the 2016 Russian attacks as a small and meaningless social media campaign. Jared Kushner said this week that the investigation into the attacks did more damage to the U.S. than the attacks themselves, and Rudy Giuliani took to the Sunday shows to insist there is “nothing wrong” with accepting stolen materials from hostile foreign actors. They might as well have sent engraved invitations to Russia, China and North Korea asking for help in the next elections.
It is clear that Republicans view the Democratic response as weak, and they are attempting to rewrite the Mueller report and minimize the national security aspect of this scandal. Our enemies — both here and abroad — need to know that Democrats will protect this nation and its elections, and the only way to send that message in a way that breaks through a fragmented media that chases a second-by-second news cycle is with a story so big that it cannot be ignored. That story is impeachment.
Consider that we discovered in the report that Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who is supposed to be leading the investigation in the Senate, was a back channel for the White House the whole time. Where has that news gone? Why aren’t Capitol Hill reporters asking about it? Senate Republicans are saying “let’s move on” because they aren’t being pressured to say anything else.
Politically, the failure to launch an impeachment inquiry increases the risk of a third-party forming on the left as a depressed liberal base wonders why it would devote time, energy and money to a party that is too afraid to stand up for American values and our national security. The response so far has looked nakedly political and fearful. Who wants to vote for that?
It’s also worth remembering that polls change. Democrats who look at the impeachment numbers now and cower should remember that before the Watergate hearings, Nixon had a 48 percent approval rating and only 19 percent favored impeachment. The hearings changed that. But even more important than those numbers is the reality that Watergate is a terrible comparison. There is simply no comparison to what we’re facing now. It is up to Democrats to set the precedent, and failure to do so will shape American elections for the foreseeable future.
Americans reward courage and punish weakness. We are setting the tone for 2020 right now with this decision.
What happens if we don’t: Republicans will continue to set the narrative, rewrite the Mueller report and enjoy the fruits of future foreign cyber attacks.
Already Sen. Lindsey Graham is following Trump’s lead in promising to “investigate the investigators.” That leaves Democrats with a choice for the next year: Play defense like they have been for the last decade, or go on offense and make Republicans defend every last word of the Mueller report.
The mainstream media will continue to “both sides” this story, unable to grasp the entire weight of it and unwilling to ask the hard questions that the Mueller report demands. Impeachment hearings force them to focus on the contents of the report, encourages more enterprise reporting in this direction and could even lead them to start asking hard questions of GOP senators who are vulnerable in 2020. Susan Collins and Cory Gardner have been close to silent since the report dropped. That is unacceptable.
Failure to pursue impeachment also emboldens the ascendant left wing of the Democratic Party. Speaker Pelosi was hailed as a hero during and after the shutdown this year. There is a strong possibility that reservoir of goodwill starts to evaporate if Pelosi appears to be cowering.
Washington hates a vacuum. If Democrats don’t fill it with impeachment, Republicans and the mainstream media will fill it with either nonsense spying allegations, more “both sides” back-and-forth and more stories about Democratic infighting.
Democrats have already missed a golden opportunity to set the narrative for the immediate post-Mueller time period. Within a few days, it will be gone altogether.
Messaging: This is about protecting this country from our enemies.
An America that is open to attacks on both its elections and its laws, is no longer America.
Our duty to protect this country and its Constitution is simply more important than the next election.
The White House has been compromised. The president cannot be counted on to defend this country. If he won’t do his job, then we will.