The Democrats’ Express to Nowhere: An Impeachment out of Desperation
The Democrats in the House of Representatives have established the requirements for the formal opening of impeachment proceedings against President Trump. However, the Democrats did not have an option but to proceed, despite the almost certain defeat in the Senate.
Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, filed two articles of impeachment on Tuesday, namely abuse of Power and obstruction of Congress, which will allow the Democrats to vote on these articles before Christmas and formally open an impeachment procedure.
The Democrats continue to accuse Trump of urging Ukrainian President Selenskyj to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden, in an attempt to influence the US presidential election in his favor in 2020. They see as proven that Trump has made the initiation of such investigations the sine qua non for a meeting with Selenskyj in the White House as well as for the release of military aid for Ukraine. According to the Democrats, this conduct amounts to an abuse of power.
The obstruction of justice allegation is based on Trump hindering the House’s investigation in what the Democrats have called “unprecedented categorical and indiscriminate defiance of the impeachment inquiry”.
Nadler stated the Judiciary Committee will deal with the charges this week. Already on Thursday, the committee could vote on the points and make a recommendation to the plenary of the House of Representatives, which could then hold a vote on the articles.
The Democrats hold the majority in the House. Since only a simple majority is sufficient, the impeachment procedure is virtually decided already, despite Republican representatives. However, it will be interesting to see whether Republicans are opposing the President. Considering the statements in the House to date, suggest the party remains unified.
However, not only Republicans could oppose the articles. What seems unlikely is not a foregone conclusion at the meta-level, as several Democratic representatives are from areas that voted in favor of Trump in the 2016 election. In these areas, impeachment is likely to find infinitesimal support. Considering that in November 2020, members of the House, as well as a third of Senators, will also be elected, results in a scenario in which some Democrats will have to choose between career and party.
Nonetheless, even if both articles find a majority, Trump’s removal from office remains inconceivable. After the vote in the House, the process continues in the Senate, where Trump’s Republicans have a comfortable majority. Likely in January, it will come to a trial against the President, based on the aforementioned two articles of impeachment. However, a conviction and removal by the Senate, which would require a two-thirds majority, is currently considered highly unlikely, as it requires 20 Republican senators to turn against the President and the party’s line.
Although removal from office is virtually impossible due to the aforementioned constellation in the Senate, the Democrats, who are cognizant of the circumstances decided to proceed. The options at this advanced stage had been limited. It has led the Democrats into a political dilemma, from which there simply is no way out for them, except for concluding the whole saga.
Without Articles of Impeachment, the party could have lost its remaining credibility. Since the Russia Collusion affair, which concluded with the Mueller report and simply was insufficient for impeachment, they have been looking for reasons to initiate proceedings. Trump and his ego obliged, while Democrats attempted to spin almost every move the President made into a criminal conspiracy or a case of severe corruption. It has left the Democrats with two issues:
First, the public has lost interested. The overkill with Trump news and alleged crimes has ensured that now, that the president may (or may not) have broken the law, many people are not even following the developments anymore, with even more opposing an impeachment.
Second, the Democrats were forced to establish some form of impeachable offenses. Retreat at this stage and without a formal impeachment would have vindicated Trump by satisfying the narrative of a witchhunt against him, which, in the end, could not deliver any charges.
Delivering charges to the Senate was necessary, even though Trump will most likely be exonerated. However, the Democrats will be able to argue that the crimes were committed, only the Republicans turned against the country and saved a guilty President.
The proceedings will continue to prove to be a major political theater, and probably not further damage the reputation of Trump – despite joining a brief list of Presidents who have been impeached in the House – but the Democrats. The bigger picture here is whether or not a failed attempt will be detrimental to the Democratic presidential candidates, as it would be the magnum opus of the Democrats’ failed strategy against Trump and as such potentially result and what the party has been fighting against Trump’s reelection.