“When Can We Impeach Donald Trump?” I couldn’t stop thinking this on Saturday. On his second day as president Trump managed to drop a line about Iraq that would have been an international incident if it had come from any other politician. Nobody noticed though, because his administration’s lies about the crowd at his inauguration were so outrageous. I guess I’m kind of on board with the idea that we should give Trump a little time to succeed or fail, but his performance on his first full day was so disastrous that it made sense to look at impeachment in some detail with this week’s video.
The biggest misconception about impeachment is that Trump needs to commit some kind of special “impeachable offense” to be vulnerable to the process. That’s not what history shows. Sure Bill Clinton’s impeachment was about perjury to some degree, but Andrew Johnson’s impeachment was not. It was a purely political process. Impeachment is about how Congress votes, not actual wrong-doing. Any presidency, and Trump’s most of all, does things that could fit under the Constitution’s super vague “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” definition. If we want to impeach Trump before 2018 we’ve got to get the Republicans on board.
For many people, the main obstacle to going hard for impeachment is Vice President Mike Pence. If we get rid of Trump, Mike Pence becomes President, and a lot of people see that as worse. The fact that Pence is a fervently religious man, and a doctrinaire old school conservative is seen as more threatening than Trump. I do not find that approach convincing. I don’t like religious or anti-choice politicians either, but the threats that these two men pose strike me as very different. And the threat that Trump poses is much greater. With Pence we’ll get a conservative supreme court justice or two, and perhaps another four years of the old abortion-increasing abstinence education focus that folks like him love. That would be a shame and it would hurt a lot of people. With Trump we risk the destruction of the American world order, and four years of degradation of any common ideas of political honesty and common decency. That hurts the whole world, and presents a non-zero chance of ending it. I’ll go with Pence over Trump any day.
Video Transcript after the jump…