What If They Don't Impeach...And He Wins?
Stephen Collinson of CNN summarizes Pelosi's political dilemma:
If she chooses to avoid impeachment and Democrats put a new president in the White House, she will be vindicated. But if Trump wins reelection despite the choking cloud of scandal around his White House, Democrats may question why they didn't try to mortally wound him politically when they had the chance.
Again, this is the political dilemma Pelosi finds herself in. But this is a dilemma of her own making because she is placing political calculation above the facts of his obstruction of justice; his campaign of active collusion with Russia by providing, among other things, polling information to them; his manifest incompetence; and his corruption.
And that is what we already know. If the Mueller report is ever completely released — it hasn't been and arguments that "we have seen enough to know what the rest says" are absurdly easy to refute — this list will be both deepened and added to.
And the facts lead to one conclusion. Trump must be impeached. Warren is right:
To ignore a President's repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways.
It is that simple. Congress has to do its job:
But what if he wins despite impeachment? What if he uses the fact that the Senate did not vote to impeach as an excuse to make political hay and claim he was "acquitted of all charges?"
So what? He's already claiming that and he will do so regardless of what they say. Even if he gets impeached by both houses of Congress, he'd claim he was acquitted. That is a fact.
What is also a fact is that Trump will do literally anything — anything — to get re-elected. Cheat? Collude with Russia? Of course, and it will be terrible. That will have a far greater impact on the 2020 results than whatever the Congress does.
Politically, the Democrats have nothing to lose if they impeach and everything to gain. Impeachment will not mitigate Trump's behavior, change the Republicans' insane devotion to him, or substantially influence the presidential election's outcome. Regarding individual races, each candidate can support impeachment and craft messages of support for locally important issues. "Yes, I agree, I support a quick impeachment so we can get around to the far more important issue of protecting your healthcare from the Republicans' obsession with eliminating pre-existing conditions. "
But if they impeach, Democrats will have done what's right, both in the eyes of the country today and in history. And it will likely lead to uncovering much worse.
PS Until fairly recently, I did not think it was a wise idea to impeach mostly because a Pence presidency was just as unthinkable as a Trump presidency. I was wrong. Congress has to do its job and we will have to take our chances.
UPDATE: Joe Lockhart makes the case that if Democrats leave Trump in office, that could wreck the modern Republican party:
Trumpism equals Republicanism as long as Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket. And a real shift to progressivism in America will be delivered by a devastating rebuke of the president and his party, a rebuke that will return control of the Senate and state houses across the nation. Politics is always a gamble — and this is the best bet we’ve had in a long time.
First, Trump (and his team) committed multiple felonies while in office and to get into office. It is both un-American and extremely dangerous to let him get away with it because he will commit more crimes - and worse.
Secondly, Lockhart assumes that the election will be reasonably fair. That is a wildly generous assumption. Letting Trump get away with this will embolden him (and give him the time) to work hard to suborn 2020.
Third, even if Trump loses but he is not impeached, this will, as Digby has pointed out, create a catastrophic precedent. It is more than likely that future (and far more competent) presidents can and will collude with foreign powers to enrich themselves and do so in a completely rigged election system. The American people will permanently lose representation.
No, Joe, we must impeach.