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Impeaching Trump

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada June 18, 2016. REUTERS/David Becker/Files

This is a thread for discussing whether House Democrats should begin impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump.

I haven’t thought very deeply about this issue, so I’ll just begin the discussion with a few tentative observations:

(1) The overwhelming, though not the sole, consideration when weighing this issue ought to be whether impeaching Trump will make it more or less likely that he will lose the 2020 election. (Conviction by the Senate is of course totally out of the question, which is one of many indicators of how the American constitutional system has pretty much outlived its useful life). My sense is that people appear to be overly confident, in both directions, about what the correct answer to this question is likely to be. There’s only one relevant precedent, Trump is in many ways a unique figure, 2019 isn’t 1998, etc.

(2) I don’t agree with the argument that Democrats have some sort of legal obligation, as a matter of principle, to go through impeachment proceedings, because Trump deserves to be impeached. Impeachment is a political process, no different in kind from passing legislation or considering executive branch nominations. It takes a quasi-judicial form, but it isn’t a judicial proceeding. And even in judicial proceedings prosecutorial discretion is always a huge part of the process.

(3) It may well be that impeaching Trump is warranted on the basis of an argument that the investigatory aspect of the proceedings will create a valuable legal and historical record, to be used in future legal prosecutions and academic inquisitions.

(4) It goes without saying that whatever choice Pelosi et. al. make regarding this question will be the wrong one according to the One True Left. Ignore those people, about this and everything else.

Have at it.

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