Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Reaching the Next Generation

Personal reflections

To impeach President Donald Trump or not?

New polls this month show a surge in support of impeachment among Democrats; while the meter remains flat for Republicans and the same for Independents.

In a June NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Americans in favor of impeachment rose 10 percent from last month to 27 percent. The spike is largely due to more Democratic voters – 48 percent -- now believing that there is enough evidence to hold impeachment hearings. Forty-eight percent (unchanged from last month) believe Congress should not hold impeachment hearings. Just 6 percent of Republicans support impeachment.

In another poll conducted by POLITICO/Morning Consult also in the month of June, the number of self-identified Democratic respondents in support of impeachment is even higher. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of Democrats believe lawmakers should begin impeachment proceedings, an increase from 59 percent of Democrats in the last POLITICO/Morning Consult survey in April.

Tyler Sinclair, vice president at Morning Consult, said “support has remained steady among Independents and very low with Republicans.”

Overall the polls indicate that impeachment at this time is still an unpopular idea for a majority of Americans and politically unsafe for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pursue, even if a majority of voters within her own party are calling for impeachment proceedings to open.

Where the numbers really matter on the Hill, only 70 House members (69 Democrats and 1 Republican) currently favor the start of an impeachment inquiry. But analysts believe that low number is largely due to Pelosi’s reluctance and would change if the House Speaker’s opinion changes. That’s how influential Pelosi is.

The Speaker has stated that impeachment is a losing battle because even if it passes the House, it’s bound to fail in the Senate. And this could be perceived as a political defeat of Democrats too close to the 2020 election.

Not closed to the idea completely, she also has said “public sentiment is everything,” not in that policy must necessarily follow public opinion, but be strategically shaped so that policy is more receptive to a strategic goal – which suggests she could be open to impeachment, but only following a judicious, slow roasting process in which House committees complete their due diligence.

Pelosi makes the point that impeachment does not necessarily mean that the president would be removed from office. “Do you know most people think that impeachment means you’re out of office? Did you ever get that feeling that you’re just in the bubble here. They think that if you get impeached, you’re gone. And that is completely not true,” said Pelosi.

Removal from office is decided by the Senate, which now has a Republican majority.

The only two U.S. presidents to be impeached – Bill Clinton and Andrew Jackson – were not removed from office.

Until formal impeachment proceedings are initiated, Americans for now must settle on the fact-finding process in the House Judiciary and Oversight committees and a White House stonewalling every step of the way.

Hawaii Congressman Ed Case told the Filipino Chronicle what must occur before he would support opening up impeachment hearings. “Congress must have all of the facts, and here we don’t because the Mueller report provided is heavily censored and key witnesses have refused to testify. I fully support efforts to require production of the full report and of key witness testimony and other information.

“I believe that we should not consider formal impeachment proceedings until this process plays out and we obtain all the facts. If those facts show impeachable offenses, or if the administration continues to obstruct Congress’ constitutional oversight function or refuses to comply with court orders, I am prepared to fulfill my duty under the Constitution.”

Hawaii Congresswomen Tulsi Gabbard is also not in support of impeachment at this time. Following the release of the Mueller report, she said “I don’t think that we should defeat Donald Trump through impeachment. I think it’s really important for us, in this country, to come together and have the American people vote to take Donald Trump out of office in 2020.”

Later speaking at a town hall in Hilo, Hawaii, Gabbard said she is studying more about the impeachment process. She also brought up a concern that some Democrats have should Trump be impeached.

“I understand the calls for impeachment but what I am being cautious about and what I give you food for thought about is that if President Trump is impeached, the problems don’t go away, because then you have a Vice President Pence who becomes President Pence.”

She believes Pence would be even more effective than Trump in pushing a conservative agenda on issues like war and peace, the environment, education, and healthcare.

“I disagree with so many of the positions that he (Pence) has,” said Gabbard.

Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz is also not ready for formal impeachment proceedings to begin. While most of the focus is on the findings of the Mueller report, the senator mentioned that there could be other impeachable offenses such as Trump’s business dealings with foreign countries may violate the emoluments clause which prohibits the president from accepting personal benefits from any foreign governments or official.

Every time a foreign official stays at a Trump hotel, or a foreign government approves a new Trump organization project, or when the Chinese government gave preliminary approval to 38 trademarks of Trump, or any situation when Trump property and his family business profits from foreign governments – these are all examples of violations of the Emoluments Clause.

Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono is the only member of Hawaii’s-D.C. delegation to support the start of an impeachment inquiry at this time. “We need to focus our entire country on what happened. This is why we should open an impeachment inquiry so we can get on with telling the public what really happened because the public is not going to read a 400-page report as so many have said.

“I think we would do a service to our country if we talk about it and shine a light and educate the public on what’s in that report as far as his efforts to obstruct justice, which I think is pretty clear,” said Hirono.

Staring impeachment proceeding isn’t necessarily a political trap

While House leadership is cautious over the political fallout impeachment could have, news pundits say it’s probably not as bad as doing nothing. It’s a questionable and risky political calculous to do nothing when a majority in your own party believes impeachment hearings should be pursued.

Democratic strategists worry that inaction could turn away Democratic voters in the next election because many Democrats voted in the midterm expecting that Trump be held accountable.

Democrats who favor impeachment proceedings say the president’s base will never change. The race for 2020 is about swaying Independents. When an impeachment trial opens and will be on-air practically 24-7 and looped in news cycles, more Americans, more Independents, would be able to see and hear the findings of the Mueller report.

They believe this could change everything because the findings in the Mueller report are damaging but Americans are just not bothering to read it.