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I Got Those Impeachment Blues


NINETEEN YEARS AGO Bill Clinton was impeached for saying “I did not have sex with that woman” when everybody knew he did. Now we have Trump insisting “I did not collude with the Russians” when everyone knows he did.

 Clinton, famously, was impeached. And Trump?

 For three years—one year of primaries and two years of administration—there has been a single overarching question: What will it take for Republicans to turn against Trump? The conventional wisdom is that they never will. We can debate the reasons why (and in fact we have to, because those reasons will determine, in part, the fate of our country), but the sad fact is that his base shows every sign of sticking with him.

Clinton’s base, too, stuck with him. I remember the period well. The overwhelming impression from everyone was, “Who gives a damn about his sex life?”, a reaction which led to Kenneth Starr’s reputational diminishment as a prudish voyeur. This pro-Clinton sentiment (his approval rating actually hit its all-time high, 73%, during the Impeachment hearings) protected him in the Senate, which refused to convict him.

Trump has no such protection. His approvals consistently land somewhere in the 40s, highest in Rasmussen, lowest in YouGov, but generally between 42% and 45%. This is not a number designed to inspire Republican Senators with confidence in their leader, but the statistics, of course, mask individual races, and the voter suppression machine Republicans have created certainly offers many GOP Senators a guaranty despite the popular opinion against Trump. So we can’t look to Trump’s low polling to assure us that, when and if the House impeaches, the Senate will convict.

How much more can Senate Republicans learn about their president’s malfeasance before they start peeling away? The answer appears to be, Plenty. They haven’t peeled yet, not even after Friday’s and Saturday’s revelations about Manafort, Flynn and Cohen. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, that poker-face, brazen liar, insists there’s no there there. Trump’s breathtaking lie on Twitter (“Totally clears the President! Thank you!”) continues his maniacal resistance to, and denial of, The Resistance. The coverup goes on at Fox “News”and Breitbart. So there’s very little motive for Republican Senators to turn against Trump at this point.

I do expect the House to Impeach.Impeachment has become an irresistible force within the Democratic Party. More than 60% of Democratic voters “want Congress to begin impeachment proceedings next year [i.e. 2019], and that brings a lot of pressure to bear on the new House. And we’re only at the beginning of the cornucopia of shockingevidence emerging against Trump and his family. As each new bit of informationtrickles out, sentiment for Impeachment inches upward. Slowly, inevitably,pro-Impeachment force will sweep Congressional Democrats as strongly as theBlue Wave brought them into the House majority. Jerry Nadler can fiddle-faddle all he wants, but he’s going to have to “go there”or face a major backlash from his voters in 2020.

Will Impeachment tear the country apart? Not any more than Trump already has. Republicans will howl the moment Nadler announces hearings, but Republicans howl anyway. The far-right media will go ballistic, but they do every day, so there’s nothing new there. The base, or the whiter, poorer, more rural, less educated Christian extremes of it, will snarl and threaten, but then, they do that all the time; a little more will only add to the cacophony on the Right. Aside from these predictable responses, there’s nothing Republicans can do. They’re not about to start shooting, are they?

Clinton’s Impeachment hearings lasted for two months and six days, from Oct. 5, 1998, when the House Judiciary Committee voted to launch the proceedings, until Dec. 11, when the committee approved its first three articles. Let’s say that the new House begins Impeachment hearings against Trump (in the Judiciary Committee) in March, with an end date sometime in June. That gives the House plenty of time to settle down and its new members to orient themselves. It also gives Mueller a few months to prepare and release his Report (assuming there is a report, instead of simply a mass of indictments and sentencing statements). A lot can happen between now and whenever this is over, but whatever happens, two things are clear: there will be no exculpatory facts in Trump’s favor, and plenty of damning evidence against him.

We don’t know what Trump will do when Impeachment hearings begin. He might completely freak out and pull some stunt so outrageous (like surrounding “his” White House with troops and daring anyone to come and get him) that even some Republicans, especially in Congress, and especially those up for re-election in 2020, would begin to abandon ship. Or he might go quietly, something he’s never done before and, at 72-1/2, angrier than ever, is unlikely to do now. Meanwhile, Nadler’s Judiciary Committee will subpoena all sorts of interesting people and wrest from them all kinds of juicy details that will further undermine Trump’s patently insulting (to our intelligence) claims of innocence. If you’re a Democrat, this Winter and Spring are going to bring a bumper crop of good news—welcome relief after years of bad news—and, let us hope, the End of this sad, corrupt, evil regime.

  1. “The overwhelming impression from everyone was, ‘Who gives a damn about his sex life?'”

    “Who” are those fearful of blackmail threats against a high-ranking and influential public servant, putting his personal self-interest (orchestrating a hush campaign) above fulfilling his oath of office to unswervingly act in “the public good.”

    Quoting from The Guardian [U.K.] article titled “Trump in Moscow: what happened at Miss Universe in 2013”:

    “Having flown from the US overnight, Trump arrived in Moscow on 8 November and checked in to the Ritz Carlton hotel. It was a choice that has since become notorious. An opposition research dossier compiled for a private client by a former British spy, which was later published by BuzzFeed News, alleged that the Kremlin held compromising and lurid footage of Trump and a pair of prostitutes during his stay at the hotel.

    “Elsewhere in the dossier, author Christopher Steele wrote that two sources alleged Trump also had illicit sexual encounters in the Russian city of St Petersburg during a separate visit to the country. . . .”


  2. “How much more can Senate Republicans learn about their president’s malfeasance before they start peeling away? The answer appears to be, Plenty. They haven’t peeled yet, not even after Friday’s and Saturday’s revelations about Manafort, Flynn and Cohen. . . .”

    For those who didn’t catch this headline news:

    “[Federal] Prosecutors Say Trump Directed Illegal Payments During Campaign”
    New York Times – posted “3 days ago”


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