Impeaching Trump or Deterring Him?

The wave of statements that came out of the halls of Congress last week regarding the impeachment of the U.S. president did not deserve the uproar that surrounded them, because they neither resulted in anything new nor achieved anything.

The most significant of these remarks was the assertion of interest in and outside of America that was expressed by Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, in an interview with The Washington Post. She confirmed that she would not support the efforts to impeach Donald Trump now. If there is no clear evidence and bipartisan support for such an endeavor, the process of impeaching the president would “divide the country,” as she put it. Trump praised Pelosi’s statement, echoing the same sentiment he mentioned in previous statements: “How do you impeach a man who is considered by many to be the President with the most successful first two years in history?”

The remarks coincided with what Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview with The Christian Science Monitor, warning the new attorney general who had previously said he would not necessarily publish everything in the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller when he received it. If the Justice Department refrains from making the Mueller report available to Congress or the general public, Schiff said Congress would call the special counsel for public testimony before it and threatening that his committee itself would re-investigate the same issues investigated by Mueller.

None of these statements are new. Pelosi’s position has not changed since she took office. Contrary to the position of some new Democratic members of Congress, the declared position of the Democratic Party leadership in the two chambers is the same as Pelosi’s position: that it should wait for the results of Mueller’s investigation.*

The impeachment of the U.S. president is a political issue. It is a process in which the House of Representatives acts as the prosecution and votes by a simple majority, while the Senate acts as the judiciary and the matter is decided by a two-thirds majority. Democrats, who hold a majority of seats in the House and a minority in the Senate, are well aware that they do not have the necessary votes in the Senate to bring down Trump. Therefore, the party leaders seek to avoid a risky endeavor, especially in the absence of sweeping popular support for impeachment. As for Trump’s statement, it is not new either, although it confuses the success and failure of the president’s political performance, which are not grounds for Congress to impeach him, with what necessitates dismissal from office according to the U.S. Constitution.

The statements of the chairman of the Intelligence Committee in the House of Representatives are also to be taken for granted. Democrats have a majority of seats in the House; this means that surely they will not accept seeing less than the full Mueller report.

These statements are not new in Washington, but in my opinion, what is new is the Democratic strategy that maintains that the idea of Trump’s impeachment, even if unsuccessful, would be desirable to restrain him, since his actions have become unpredictable.

*Editor’s note: The Mueller report was submitted to Attorney General William Barr on March 22, who then released a summary two days later. As of publication, House Democrats are pressing Barr to release the full report.

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