Nancy Pelosi's challenge is controlling Democrats' urge to impeach Trump

Impeachment is the fever dream of Democrats and progressives whose engagement brought Democrats into the Hou...

Posted: Jan 4, 2019 4:16 PM
Updated: Jan 4, 2019 4:16 PM

Impeachment is the fever dream of Democrats and progressives whose engagement brought Democrats into the House majority.

That's why one congressman pledged to re-introduce articles of impeachment as soon as possible, and another said she promised her son of the President, "we're going to impeach the motherf****r."

Bill Clinton

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Eastern Europe

Elections and campaigns

Europe

Government and public administration

Government organizations - US

Impeachment

Investigations

Legislation

Nancy Pelosi

Political Figures - US

Political organizations

Political scandals

Politics

Richard Nixon

Robert Mueller

Russia

Russia meddling investigation

Scandals

US Congress

US Democratic Party

US House of Representatives

US political parties

US Senate

It's a topic that's been on Democrats' tongues since Trump took office. But newly elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have argued against serious consideration of that option.

Controlling the urge to impeach could be Pelosi's most difficult challenge in her first months back in the Speaker's office.

Democrats really want to impeach Trump, but the country doesn't

In a CNN Poll conducted by SSRS in December, 80% of Democrats said they thought the President should be impeached and removed from office. That's a strong tide for Pelosi to fight.

But the reason she'll fight it is expressed in the same poll, where just 36% of independents and 7% of Republicans said Trump should be impeached and removed from office.

Just 43% of the respondents at large said he should be impeached and half -- 50% -- said he should not.

Democrats want it. The country does not.

Impeaching Trump is different than removing him from office

Getting rid of a president using impeachment is a two-step process. The House investigates the president for high crimes and misdemeanors and votes to impeach. But it's the job of the Senate to hold a public trial and remove the president from office. And while Democrats seized control of the House and the power to impeach Trump, they actually lost a net of two seats in the Senate. It would take 67 senators to vote to remove a president from office in the Senate. There are 47 Democrats and two independents who usually vote with them. Unless and until a large number -- 20! -- of Republican senators are willing to vote to remove Trump from office, impeaching him in the House would only accomplish making impeachment the cause celebre of Trump and his supporters.

Pelosi noted this in an interview with USA Today when she said any impeachment effort should be heavily bipartisan.

"If there's to be grounds for impeachment of President Trump -- and I'm not seeking those grounds -- that would have to be so clearly bipartisan in terms of acceptance of it before I think we should go down any impeachment path," she said.

Trump's approval rating is not at impeachment levels

That 43% support for Trump being impeached is nothing to sniff at -- it's on par with the 43% who said Richard Nixon should be impeached in March of 1974, not long before he resigned to avoid impeachment. But Trump's approval rating is much higher than Nixon's at that time.

Granted, Trump's approval rating is much lower than Bill Clinton's at the time of Clinton's impeachment. But the Clinton lesson is one Pelosi probably remembers very well. Republicans' impeachment effort against Clinton backfired and his popularity actually grew as the process wore on. He also survived the trial in the Senate.

The real prize for Democrats would be winning in 2020

Democrats won't have a chance to strengthen their hand in the Senate until the next election in 2020, which also happens to be when Trump is up for re-election. Beating him and putting a Democrat in office is probably a much more tantalizing idea to someone like Nancy Pelosi than impeaching Trump. Her most recent comments on impeachment, made to NBC News just before she was sworn in as speaker, were interesting on this point, when she said no decision should be made until special counsel Robert Mueller delivers his report on the Russian election interference investigation.

"We shouldn't be impeaching for a political reason and we shouldn't avoid it for a political reason," she said.

Impeachment takes a long time

If Democrats do ultimately move to impeach Trump, the process would be all-consuming and take a long time. The Starr report was released on September 11, 1998. The House voted to impeach Bill Clinton three months later on December 19, 1998. The Senate didn't acquit him until February of 1999.

Nixon resigned rather than be impeached, but the process was taking even longer. Impeachment hearings against Nixon began in the House Judiciary Committee in May of 1974 and Nixon didn't resign until early August of 1974.

It would be very hard for Democrats to find oxygen for any other political platform during that time.

Mueller could change everything you've just read

The important caveat in what Pelosi has said this week about impeachment is that Mueller has not yet completed his investigation or issued any kind of report. Key former Trump aides are still cooperating with the Russia investigation. Whatever Mueller finds could change the impeachment equation immediately and dramatically. Or not. That's why it's important to wait and see what he finds. There are plenty of Democrats who think there are already grounds to impeach Trump right now. But they are not, as described above, in the majority.

What Mueller's report, if and when it comes, won't change is the date of the next general election. And while Pelosi said Democrats shouldn't avoid impeachment for political reasons, the fact remains that if or until Republicans turn en masse against the President, it is probably a less attractive option for Democrats to pursue than making a political argument to voters.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 98447

Reported Deaths: 2072
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin27557932
Ramsey11167323
Dakota7692126
Anoka6281137
Stearns409424
Washington391855
Scott264833
Olmsted253528
Nobles197916
Blue Earth17366
St. Louis172542
Wright17017
Carver14467
Clay142441
Rice13478
Mower13446
Sherburne117714
Kandiyohi10563
Winona92018
Lyon7334
Waseca7228
Benton5633
Steele5552
Crow Wing55418
Nicollet54717
Freeborn5464
Watonwan5354
Chisago5171
Todd5072
McLeod5022
Le Sueur4764
Otter Tail4694
Beltrami4605
Martin44611
Goodhue3899
Pine3550
Douglas3522
Itasca35215
Polk3274
Isanti3191
Becker2842
Carlton2791
Morrison2702
Dodge2610
Pipestone23810
Chippewa2321
Cottonwood2290
Meeker2132
Wabasha2060
Sibley2023
Yellow Medicine1982
Brown1962
Cass1864
Rock1810
Redwood1783
Murray1742
Mille Lacs1693
Renville1618
Jackson1531
Unassigned15352
Faribault1470
Swift1441
Fillmore1330
Houston1300
Kanabec1288
Roseau1260
Koochiching1233
Hubbard1221
Pennington1201
Lincoln1180
Stevens1071
Pope1000
Aitkin841
Big Stone830
Wadena730
Wilkin713
Lac qui Parle681
Grant634
Lake600
Norman560
Marshall531
Mahnomen491
Red Lake451
Traverse340
Clearwater310
Lake of the Woods241
Kittson120
Cook70

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 87828

Reported Deaths: 1332
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk16113264
Woodbury559768
Johnson517927
Black Hawk454192
Linn4163114
Story348517
Dubuque340242
Scott309528
Dallas282938
Pottawattamie220139
Buena Vista200312
Marshall179434
Sioux17073
Wapello134157
Webster131714
Plymouth118221
Clinton113921
Muscatine112855
Crawford11086
Cerro Gordo106421
Warren9696
Jasper87034
Des Moines8068
Henry7734
Marion7728
Tama75332
Carroll6955
Lee6527
Wright5971
Dickinson5426
Boone5268
Bremer5067
Washington48511
Delaware4413
Louisa43415
Mahaska42720
Lyon3754
Jackson3583
Floyd3573
Franklin35218
Clay3434
Winneshiek3408
Benton3381
Hamilton3343
Winnebago32313
Hardin3111
Poweshiek3118
Buchanan2921
Jones2893
Kossuth2860
Butler2792
Emmet27510
Chickasaw2701
Shelby2701
Clarke2693
Clayton2683
Sac2670
Allamakee2656
Guthrie2649
Harrison2593
Cherokee2572
Cedar2531
Fayette2382
Madison2342
Grundy2294
Iowa2221
Palo Alto2080
Hancock1992
Mitchell1970
Humboldt1943
Howard1927
Mills1911
Page1910
Calhoun1883
Osceola1770
Cass1762
Pocahontas1662
Monona1621
Monroe16211
Lucas1566
Appanoose1443
Union1423
Jefferson1401
Taylor1341
Davis1284
Ida1281
Fremont1220
Keokuk1191
Van Buren1181
Worth1090
Greene1050
Montgomery995
Audubon891
Wayne882
Adair731
Decatur670
Ringgold532
Adams330
Unassigned140
Rochester
Broken Clouds
51° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 51°
Mason City
Few Clouds
54° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 54°
Albert Lea
Scattered Clouds
54° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 54°
Austin
Overcast
54° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 54°
Charles City
Broken Clouds
54° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 54°
Winds pick up for Wednesday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events