Let us be painfully clear – and fast in clarity. If Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer re-impeach Donald Trump – twisting an established legal standard for “incitement” to match their disdain for Trump – bad things follow. Here is how that works – and why Biden should call them off.
Democrats will move to impeach this week, giddy over controlling both chambers. They will ditch due process, and any semblance of established constitutional procedure. They will have to, as time is short for ousting a president due to leave office anyway in eleven days.
The idea of a measured, multi-month parliamentary inquiry, traditionally premised on dutiful committee work, sound procedure, articulation of historical bases for “high crimes or misdemeanors,” legal representation, fidelity to tradition and honor – will have to be tossed.
The mad dash to impeach – claiming Trump’s injudicious, improvident, reckless remarks amount to “insurrection,” since an unruly mob overran the Capitol – is already well along.
Truth be told, the fast track, slap-dash impeachment may succeed, since that spectacle of violence at the Capitol, resulting in five deaths, was horrifying. Visuals left emotional imprints.
If the case is made that President Trump intended these events, the House and Senate could move like lightening, making the attempted impeachments of Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and even the earlier Trump impeachment mockery – look like child’s play.
But here is the arresting reality, which ought to stop Democrats cold. If this sober constitutional remedy for “high crimes and misdemeanors” is – in some slipshod, venal way – reconceived, legally twisted, procedurally accelerated, and suddenly redefined, no president will escape it.
Let me specific. Who does not think, in all honesty, if a power-drunk, fast-tracking Democrat mob in House and Senate exact political vengeance with instant impeachment, a similar move would not emerge in two years, going directly after Biden or Harris, if House and Senate flip?
Is this what Democrats and Republicans want? What any American leader or citizen should want – a suddenly common, debilitating default to presidential impeachments? We are already at the border of that constitutional nightmare – one our Founders would firmly foreswear.
When Democrats unilaterally changed Senate rules for confirming judges, giving their party a sudden leg up on appointments under a Democrat president, they imagined the more historically hesitant, procedurally attentive, often demur, traditional Republicans would not follow suit.
How did that work out? Ask any Democrat how they feel about President Trump’s 220 new federal judges and three new Justices. Point is simple: If you cheapen the process for partisan gain, you forget an iron rule of Washington DC and of politics: What goes around comes around.
Democrats should not expect a more conservative, traditional, history-minded Republican majority – with a 50-50 chance of flipping both House and Senate in 2022 – will forget. No, reality is a swift, pointless, legally unsound impeachment of President Trump – conducted like a Communist kangaroo court in just eleven days – is a shout destined to echo a hundred years.
And the first echo, if history is our guide, could be as early as 2023, two years from now. If discretion is the better part of valor, wisdom the distillate of reason, mercy a balance for justice, decency and respect touchstone of good leaders, this senseless impeachment should be tabled, in favor of holding onto whatever dignity Congress has left.
While this may mean nothing in our shrill political times, rife with vengeance – most living Americans and a majority of those who came before, would say stop this useless impeachment. That said, unless Biden weighs in – claiming magnanimity – the impeachment gambit will go forward. That would be a blow to the Republic as great as recent violence, arguably far worse.