A few key practical considerations weigh heavily in favor of caution. Perhaps most notably, if a concerted attempt to impeach or convict Trump fails, it will be extraordinarily difficult to assemble the political will to try a second time, even if an entirely new factual basis emerges. Call it the double-jeopardy problem, special presidential edition.
Our history of impeachments, while thin, makes clear that both phases of the removal process require an enormous expenditure of time and energy — the kind that is unlikely to be readily attempted twice. It took the House Judiciary Committee almost six months to approve and refer to the full House formal articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon after being granted the authority to investigate whether impeachment was warranted. After Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were successfully impeached, the Senate took two months just to acquit each of the charges.
The problems that a first failed removal attempt will create for a second attempt are worth consideration because of the nature of the alleged misconduct and conflicts that have plagued the Trump presidency. Trump’s administration has not been derailed by a one-off scandal of dubious public dimension, like an affair with a White House intern, or even multiple abuses stemming from a discrete event, such as a break-in at a rival political party’s headquarters. Trump’s short tenure has instead been marked by an unprecedented pattern of incompetence, ethical improprieties and financial conflicts, as well as pointed disregard for national security protocol and for fact-based national security assessments. And that’s before we even get to the Russia probes. All of these factors suggest impeachment might be appropriate tomorrow even if it isn’t appropriate or sufficiently popular to garner the consensus necessary for Trump’s ouster today.