As of Dec. 18, the “Real Clear Politics Average” polling regarding the impeachment and removal of President Donald Trump points in the president’s favor.
What motivates Speaker Nancy Pelosi to push impeachment proceedings when the polls don’t support it? Doesn’t she want or need the support of a clear majority of Americans? She was in Congress during the Bill Clinton impeachment and remembers the results — catastrophic losses for the Republicans in the 1998 midterms.
Do the facts add up to an impeachable offense? The facts turn out to be a political Rorschach test. The same set of facts results in a completely opposite conclusion depending on one’s political leanings.
Or do they? Not only are opinion polls definitively undecided, but so are Democratic senators.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “And we Senate Democrats believe that the trial has to be fair, and it’s important that the American people judge it to be fair.”
“And so, there is lots of evidence that the House presented, but these four witnesses have direct knowledge of why the aid to Ukraine was delayed,” he said. “There is no reason not to have them.”
If “there is no reason not to have them,” why did the House of Representatives proceed without testimony from these four witnesses? President Trump did refuse to have certain witnesses testify or to produce requested documents. The House Judiciary Committee could’ve asked the courts to enforce the congressional subpoenas as they did in the Richard Nixon and Clinton impeachment efforts. Speaker Pelosi refused to do so.
It may be because the Democrats weren’t on solid legal ground. A congressional subpoena isn’t inviolable. If refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena makes a president guilty of obstruction of justice, every single president of the modern era is guilty.
The other charge, abuse of power, is opaque. Republicans must wonder if such a charge applies to executive actions. Republicans were justly outraged that President Barack Obama was conducting the people’s business outside the scope of the legislative process. Obama’s executive actions included the Iran deal, the Paris climate agreement, and Trans-Pacific Partnership — all done without congressional approval. Could the Republicans have charged President Obama with abuse of power?
It’s possible that the Democrats believe that, lacking impeachment, President Trump will thrash their own party’s presidential candidates in 2020. Michael Bloomberg is on record stating exactly that.
But Republicans should be vigilant and not rely on the Democrats’ ineptitude. Most voters believe the president’s call wasn’t “perfect” even if they believe impeachment is unjustified.
There’s also history. In 1991 President H. W. Bush was regarded as electorally invincible after the Gulf War victory. His approval rating, in mid-1991, topped 70 percent. Then the economy dipped. We know what happened next.