Impeachment Seems Inevitable, So Does Acquittal

By

Leonard Zwelling

Today, October 31, President Trump probably got his first real scare in a while. Trick or treat!

The U. S. House of Representatives is officially on record as launching an impeachment inquiry. The rules of engagement are set and the parlor political game played only three times before has begun. The vote was almost perfectly partisan, which is a shame, and this makes the likelihood of the generation of real articles of impeachment almost a guarantee given what is already known about what President Trump said and when he said it. He’s admitted to as much so it’s not really about whether or not he did it. It’s about whether or not 218 members of the House think that him doing it is an impeachable offense and then there will be a trial to determine his guilt or innocence held in the Senate with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding. Such a trial has only happened twice before and both times the president impeached was found not guilty. That’s likely to happen again.

The Senate must convict with a two-thirds majority which at this point seems wholly unlikely with 53 out of 100 Senators being Republican, but the process, that which the GOP has railed against for weeks, must go forward. So far the main question is whether Mr. Trump extorted the president of Ukraine by threatening to withhold vital military aid in exchange for a public investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden and the latter’s business in Ukraine. If Mr. Trump made such a statement, and evidence from eyewitnesses suggest that he did, and if this fact was being covered up, and that too seems likely, then Mr. Trump is probably guilty of having done it. It’s probably abuse of power and maybe even obstruction of justice. It’s certainly a violation of campaign financing law as Trump asked for something of value from a foreign government to aid his re-election. And the White House’s stonewalling access to witnesses is probably obstruction, too.

After today, the process argument may be on the way to being fixed as both sides can call witnesses and the courts may compel people subpoenaed to testify.

But this isn’t a legal procedure. This is political as was designed in the Constitution. The Founders were really worried about the executive abusing his power and it seems that Mr. Trump has done that. Furthermore, he has done this in the context of a foreign power interfering in our domestic election process, precisely what the Founders were worried about.

Now the real question is: does anyone care beside the partisan Democrats or will most Americans simply feel that President Trump was doing his job for the U.S. in the best way he knew how and that’s the way politicians behave anyway? Is this the new normal? Of course, that’s been the question about Trump’s whole presidency. The latest polls suggest the country is split on this question, right down the middle.

The real jury here isn’t the Senate.

Most of the facts of this case are known and impeachment is not a legal process so law per se is not the issue.

Impeachment is what the majority of the House says it is.

Conviction will take two-thirds of the Senate. Those Senators will be judging the feelings of their constituents as they make their decisions, especially the Senators running for re-election in 2020. I just don’t see the Senate convicting Mr. Trump UNLESS—there is a smoking gun that demonstrates him extorting a foreign leader AND the American public believes it. It was the smoking gun tape that got Nixon to resign. It will take something as dramatic to get Mr. Trump out of office. I don’t think it exists and the American people are not where they were in 1974 regarding Mr. Nixon. Trump and Trumpism are accepted facts. No one’s mind has yet to be changed.

And through this all, the Democratic contenders for the presidency press on no longer making headlines. None of them was mentioned in the NBC Nightly News tonight, October 31. The only big news on the campaign trail is that Beto quit. Finally!

On the cable channels it’s impeachment 24/7. But take heart. It’s not on Netflix! Turn off the TV. Fire up the computer.

This all may come down to what constitutes a high crime and misdemeanor. Just as what constitutes an impeachable offense is what the House says does, what constitutes a high crime or misdemeanor is what the Senate says does. This is not a matter of law. It’s all politics.

Leonard Zwelling