Resolve The Impeachment Conundrum.
by Erica and Karen
The House Democrats face an impeachment conundrum. Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution states that all civil officers of the United States, including the President and Vice President, “shall be removed from Office” on “impeachment for, and conviction of, ...high crimes and misdemeanors.” (emphasis added). The House is the body charged with instituting those proceedings. The Constitution also states that persons who are found to have engaged in such conduct should not continue in, and “shall be removed from,” office.
If, on the one hand, the House focuses on its constitutional obligation and believes that there is evidence of impeachable offenses, it is the only body with authority to institute those proceedings. On the other hand, if the House focuses on the ultimate goal of the Constitution--the removal of a civil officer who commits such offenses--then the equation is less straightforward. Absent bipartisan Senate support, and maybe evidence which the President seems committed to withholding at all costs, conviction appears to be impossible, so impeachment proceedings cannot accomplish their constitutional objective.
We’ve been wrestling with how we would make that call if we were in the shoes of our Democratic representatives. How will history interpret and judge their decision? Obstruction of justice was one of the Richard Nixon articles of impeachment and it seems clear, at least to us, that there is credible evidence and precedent to constitute the basis for the institution of impeachment proceedings here. If the House does not commence proceedings on the basis of facts presented after as careful and meticulous investigation as Mueller’s, is the impeachment clause rendered meaningless? On the other hand, if the record stays as it is and the President is permitted to continue to withhold his testimony and other information, and if Senate bipartisan support is impossible, a lot of time and effort and money would be expended for nothing, and any number of voters now on the fence might be pushed toward Trump, perhaps achieving exactly the opposite of the intent of the impeachment power.
Reserving our rights to change our minds, here is our thinking.
Decide whether or not to impeach now. All the talk about getting more information through subpoenas should stop. Democrats are looking for a silver bullet that will sway some Republicans to their side, tipping the scales towards impeachment. That evidence may exist and they may even get it, but given the extensive fact finding of the Mueller Report that likelihood is remote. So is the likelihood that any evidence whatsoever will change the position of Senators now supporting the President, who have complete power to block conviction.
The country needs a decision. We think the House should declare that impeachment would be appropriate, but since initiating the process would plainly be pointless the House will stand down. Then let’s move on.