Some Democrats are warning that we should not begin the impeachment construction project (open hearings for an impeachment inquiry) because, lacking the requisite 2/3 supermajority needed to convict in a Republican senate, it cannot succeed and Trump would then claim that he had been exonerated.
While the larger point is that sometimes we have to just DO THE RIGHT THING regardless of what is politically expedient, the overly cautious assumption is not correct for two reasons:
First, as former HUD secretary and presidential candidate Julián Castro pointed out, if the Democrats take NO ACTION, Trump will say that “even the Democrats knew they didn’t have anything of substance or they would have acted on it.”
Second, even the political calculus that you can’t get a senate conviction, or that a failure to convict would somehow backfire, is not correct. They are remembering a sham impeachment of Clinton on trumped-up phony charges which the American people rejected as a political sham.
A better impeachment example is 24 years earlier — the successful impeachment of Richard Nixon (he was not actually removed from office BY impeachment, but BECAUSE he knew an impeachment was forthcoming and would result in conviction and he resigned instead, so it was the impeachment process that worked to remove him from office) — based on real crimes.
If Democrats in 1974 had voted to impeach before all the smoking guns were uncovered, they would never have gotten the Republicans in the senate to agree to vote for removal. If Democrats vote articles of impeachment before the smoking guns are uncovered — those reported by Mueller as well as additional material not within Mueller’s scope of inquiry — it would similarly fail. So we need the hearings to uncover those smoking guns.
Where there was a substantial basis, the process worked; where there was no substantial basis, it did not.
May 31, 2017