Some (bad) arguments for not impeaching Trump

The following is extracted from an op-ed titled “Impeachment is not the answer” by newly-elected Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI, photo left, bio here) published in The Hill (here) on Wednesday, January 13, 2021, about an hour after the U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Trump for inciting insurrection.

Rep. McClain: “Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, is a day that will live in infamy. … Let me be clear: what happened was repulsive and a stain on our nation. … Those who defaced the walls of history need to be brought to justice and punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

Me: A disclaimer. Expected. What else could she say?

Rep. McClain: “I joined more than 100 of my colleagues in objecting to the certification of two states, Arizona and Pennsylvania.”

Me: I have a problem with that; I’ll explain why below.

Rep. McClain: “Almost immediately, the narrative was born that those who voted to object certification were somehow complicit in the vile events that took place hours before.”

Me: Because, as I’ll explain below, you were.

Rep. McClain: “This is repugnant.”

Me: No, it’s not repugnant, it’s a legitimate point of inquiry. The violent assault on the Capitol grew directly out of Trump’s baseless assaults on the legitimacy of the election. Your objection to certification reinforced and supported those assaults. If you have a problem with how a state conducts its elections, the time and manner to dispute that is through the legislative process when the laws are being made that govern the conduct of elections. The fact an objection procedure exists in the Constitution and federal law doesn’t legitimize misuse of it. To be legitimate, a congressional objection to electoral votes certified and submitted by a state must be based on credible evidence of actual corruption, fraud, or irregularity which changed the result in that state. Given how thoroughly these issues were litigated in the courts, and the utter lack of such evidence, your objection to Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s electoral votes was a rogue objection and made in bad faith. That’s not just my opinion; you’ve just been cut off from a slew of corporate political donations because of what you did. In addition, as you’re from a different state, it also smacks of an outsider meddling in how they conduct their elections.

Rep. McClain: “While we may not always share the same political views, the assertation that my colleagues, on either side of the aisle, would have any response to what happened earlier that day other than complete disgust is something that is not true.”

Me: You and your Republican colleagues who oppose impeaching Trump can’t be all that disgusted by his role in it. Most people think it wouldn’t have happened without his instigating it.

Rep. McClain: “I then began to receive the question if my vote on election certification changed based on the earlier events of the day. The answer was no. I took an oath of office to honor and uphold the Constitution.”

Me: Don’t blame your baseless objection on the Constitution. It didn’t make you do that.

Rep. McClain: “… [T]o allow violence to undermine my oath of office to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States’ would be, in my view, to let the rioters win. I refuse to do that.”

Me: Thanks, I appreciate the sentiment, but words are cheap and I’ll judge you by your actions. Objecting to electoral votes without proper basis isn’t supporting or defending the Constitution, it’s the opposite of that.

Rep. McClain: “Now, calls for invoking the 25th Amendment and impeachment of the president have surfaced.”

Me: No shit, Sherlock.

Rep. McClain: “On Tuesday, Republicans blocked an effort to remove President Trump from office by invoking the 25th Amendment. I agree with this action by my colleagues and let me explain why. Do I feel that the president could have done more to deescalate the events of this past week? Absolutely.”

Me: ‘Done more to deescalate?’ What on earth are you talking about? He instigated those events. Also, let’s not call them ‘events.’ It was a riot, a violent insurrection, and an attempt to overthrow the duly elected government of the United States.

Rep. McClain: “It is incumbent upon us all to lower the temperature in our communities, homes, and with those who hold different political ideologies than us.”

Me: It’s a little late for kumbaya. The time for you to “lower the temperature” was when Trump and others in your party were spreading the inflammatory lies about the election that riled up this mob. Now, granted, the Detroit Free Press, the largest-circulation newspaper in your home state, makes you out as only a bit player (they only described you here as a “bitter ender”); but, even so, your handwringing at this stage is unconvincing.

Rep. McClain: “This is not the first time that impeachment has taken center stage during the Trump administration. Democrats led their first impeachment effort beginning in the House of Representatives in December of 2019. This effort was abruptly put to rest in the Senate a few months later.”

Me: You spat that out as if you think something was wrong with impeaching Trump for misusing military aid approved by Congress for a besieged ally to extort fabricated dirt against a domestic political opponent. If so, something’s wrong with you. It’s true that effort to remove Trump from office was “abruptly put to rest” by a gang of partisan Republicans in the Senate who refused to even hear any evidence. They failed miserably in their duty to the Constitution and American people. Had they done their job, and removed him then, the attack on the Capitol would never have happened.

Rep. McClain: “What good did it accomplish if we are doing it again … ”

Me: That’s like asking what good does it do to prosecute a murderer after the victim is dead. It’s about accountability. It’s about holding people responsible for their actions. You’re unwilling to do that. I don’t feel safe when the country is in the hands of people like you.

Rep. McClain: “… almost a year later and days away from what I hope will be a peaceful transition of power?”

Me: Impeaching him for violently interfering in the transition of power serves the obviously useful function of preventing him for succeeding.

Rep. McClain: “I fear that those who support impeachment are rereading the same playbook yet expecting a different result.”

Me: Nobody has any illusions that the moral rot afflicting the Republican Party has gone away in the last seven days.

Rep. McClain: “Most importantly, and most alarmingly, I believe that calls for impeachment are about a vendetta against President Trump …”

Me: You’ve got to be kidding.

Rep. McClain: ” … and not in the best interests of the American voter.”

Me: What ‘American voter’ are you talking about? Only the 74 million voters who voted for Trump, or are you including the 81 million voters who voted for Biden? To date, I’ve seen zero evidence that anyone in your party gives a damn about the right of those 81 million voters to have a say in choosing our president. You didn’t act in the best interests of the 5.1 million voters in Arizona and Pennsylvania who voted for Biden when you joined others of your party in trying to get their votes thrown out.

Rep. McClain: “With less than 10 days left, what benefit do the American people receive from Washington’s latest effort to impeach the president?”

Me: Your party’s senators can remove him tomorrow if they so choose. Here’s a partial list of what an immediate end of the Trump presidency would accomplish:

  1. Separate him from the nuclear codes before he does something truly crazy.
  2. Prevent him from pardoning the rioters you yourself just said ‘need to be brought to justice and punished.’
  3. Remove the incentive for his fanatical supporters to make another violent attempt to extend his presidency.
  4. Punish the bad behavior for which he was impeached.
  5. Deter future presidents from similar behavior.
  6. Take power away from someone who repetitively misuses it. You wouldn’t let a toddler in a daycare keep playing with matches just because his mom is going to pick him up 10 minutes from now, would you?
  7. Prevent him from ever running or being elected again, by disqualifying him from holding federal office.
  8. Perhaps of greatest practical importance, if it’s true (as reported here) that McConnell can marshal enough Senate votes to oust Trump, then putting articles of impeachment in his hands gives him the power to fire Trump, which puts Trump on a short leash. The effect was immediate; Trump promptly released a video condemning violnce and pleading with his supporters for “calm.”

Rep. McClain: “At best, impeachment is pouring gasoline onto the rubble that was left by the actions of this past week and questioning if it will burn again.”

Me: That’s hyper-partisan crapola. Don’t blame the Democrats for inflaming the situation. Your party is the arsonist here. And by objecting to those other states’ electoral votes, you lit one of the matches.

Rep. McClain: “At worst, impeachment is Washington’s attempt to take one last swipe at a president that will soon be out of office and further divide an already sorely divided republic.”

Me: Laughable. Your party has divided America. Would you like me to list the ways? Your hypocrisy could etch glass.

Wrapup: Rep. McClain isn’t a lawyer, nor did she have any government experience before being elected to Congress two months ago, and it shows in the weakness of her arguments. There are Republicans who could, and did, make stronger arguments against impeaching Trump again, with 10 days to go in his presidency, although all of the arguments are weak on the merits — made even weaker by the GOP’s role in spreading lies about the election and refusal to acknowledge Biden’s victory.

Trump’s incitement of insurrection against an election result is the most severe test of our governing system since the Civil War. Whether he has a year, a month, a week, or a day left in office, it cannot go unanswered. Even if impeaching him proves to be only symbolic, symbolism is important. (If it isn’t, why are they fighting so hard for Confederate flags and military base names?) But it need not be symbolic. Trump could be removed from office tomorrow if Senate Republicans did their job. The near-certainty they won’t illustrates how corrupt the Republican Party is. By defending that corruption, Rep. McClain discredits herself.

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  1. Good reasons for 2nd impeachment #

    1. Unfit for the job = Article 25

    2. Encouraged/incited his followers based on evidence that “trump won” the election.

    3. Mishandled Covid 19, by firing the entire pandemic response chain-of-command team.

    Mishandled the more polite way of saying

    trump’s budget request for 2021 cuts the budgey for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC by nearly 16%. The CDC is responsible for disease prevention and control in the United States.

    trump spreads misinformation.

    trump doesn’t heed warnings

    trump fabricated his positive trade talks with China.

    If his lips are moving he is lying.

  2. Mark S Adams #

    The Democrats in the House have now over reached. The truth is that in large part the security forces guarding the Capital screwed up.

    Napoleon mentioned something about a whiff of grapeshot. A whiff of small arms fire would have prevented the mob from accessing the Capital. Yes it would have been bad optics. Yes there would have been bodies on the steps of the Capital building. Yet the officers failed in their most basic function. They should have formed line. Fired a warning shot over the mob, and met the mob with appropriate deadly force. And remained on station until unable to respond, and killed by the mob. They should have been patriots or martyrs if need be.
    As it is we may well see the Biden White House having to assist Trump during any impeachment trial. Where Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership has again ignored what every green horn Prosecutor is told to never bring a case you know you cannot get the jury to find the defendant guilty. Overreaching will strengthen Trump and makes it likely Biden or Harris will be impeached by Republicans in 2023 or at minimum face Trump at the polls after 4 years of little progress.
    Taking a page from George Washington would be better. Some of the few pardons he did were for individuals who rebelled during the Whiskey Rebellion.

  3. Roger Rabbit #

    You think Democrats “overreached” by impeaching Trump for inciting a mob to overrun the Capitol, erect a gallows, and threatening to kill the vice president and members of Congress? Really?

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