Democrats, Republicans can go back to healthy debate: Column
By Rich Elfers
It was to my great relief that the Mueller report did not find any evidence of collusion between the Russians and the 2016 Trump campaign. An impeachment trial would be disastrous for this nation. It would divide an already polarized populace. It could lead to a civil war.
Even if Trump had been guilty of collusion, it would also not be considered a treasonous act based on the constitutional definition of treason.
Article III of the Constitution states that: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”
Article II section 4 clearly defines grounds for impeachment: “The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on impeachment for and Conviction of Treason, Bribery, and other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
“High crimes and misdemeanors” are defined by “The Free Dictionary by Farley” as: “Criminal actions as well as any serious misuse or abuse of office, ranging from tax evasion and obstruction of justice. The ultimate authority for determining whether an office represents a ground for impeachment lies with Congress.”
Specifically, the House of Representatives acts as prosecutor in an impeachment trial. For the next two years, the Democrats hold a 40-seat majority in the House. They would be the body that would determine whether the president had engaged in either bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors.
The Senate, in the case of an impeachment trial, acts as the jury. To convict a president of impeachment charges requires two-thirds of the vote, or 67. Currently, Republicans have a 53-45 majority, with two independents who caucus with the Democrats. That means, barring any major new revelations, there is no way the president could be removed from office. Checks and balances are working just as they have been designed to work.
So, why are some Democrats talking about impeachment? The answer is that it lies with the 2020 election. Mentioning impeachment stirs up the Democratic base. Mentioning impeachment, however, also riles up Trump’s base. Polarization’s beat goes on.
Optics are the operating reality. Leading up to the 2016 presidential elections, congressional Republicans investigated Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s Benghazi involvement seven times, finding no charges of wrongdoing. The taint of those investigations was meant to sway those who did not like her anyway. It worked.
With the new reality that President Trump likely won’t be impeached, the issues that divide Democrats and Republicans can go back to healthy debate. One of those issues will be health care for all, which will be a major plus for Democrats who support Obamacare. President Trump has again advocated eliminating Obamacare. This is puzzling, since cutting the costs of health care and providing it to a greater number of Americans is a popular issue with the majority of Americans.
Who wins the 2020 presidential election will come down to whether the Democrats can find a candidate who is centrist enough to win moderates from both parties and from the independents. If they continue to move further and further left, they could lose. There are a lot of Republicans who don’t like Trump and would welcome a moderate Democrat as an alternative to Trump’s abrasive, amoral behavior and speech.
There is a chance a third candidate could enter the race like Howard Schultz who would likely swing the election to Trump by splitting the progressive vote. It’s also possible a Republican like Mitt Romney will challenge Trump’s nomination.
In spite of all of Trump’s tweets of a Mueller “witch hunt,” facts from the investigation paint a rosier picture than Trump could have hoped for. Ironically, tearing down Mueller’s report could actually hurt him with the undecideds. For Trump supporters, whatever the findings turned out to be didn’t matter. They would remain loyal to him.
Mueller findings have brought U.S. politics back to normal – predictably unpredictable. It’s a major relief.
Rich Elfers is a columnist with the Courier-Herald in Enumclaw, a former Enumclaw City Council member and a Green River College professor. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.