Rep. Adam Schiff wrote an opinion piece for the NY Times recommending that his fellow Democrats not “take the bait” on impeachment. Schiff, who has been one of the most visible proponents of the Russia collusion story, writes that there is a political danger to impeachment which seems to stem from political animus rather than any particular facts.
The legal standard for what constitutes a high crime or misdemeanor is less important than the practical and political standard that must be met in any impeachment case. And while that political standard cannot be easily or uniformly defined, I think in the present context, it means the following: Was the president’s conduct so incompatible with the office he holds that Democratic and Republican members of Congress can make the case to their constituents that they were obligated to remove him?
If they cannot, if impeachment is seen by a substantial part of the country as merely an effort to nullify an election by other means, there will be no impeachment, no matter how high the crime or serious the misdemeanor…
Should the facts warrant impeachment, that case will be made more difficult politically if part of the country feels that removing Mr. Trump was the result that some of their fellow Americans were wishing for all along…
Given the evidence that is already public, I can well understand why the president fears impeachment and seeks to use the false claim that Democrats are more interested in impeachment than governing to rally his base. Democrats should not take the bait.
This isn’t the first time Schiff has tried to downplay talk of impeachment, but it can’t have escaped his notice that fellow Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters has been talking about it since before Trump was even inaugurated. Since then she has brought it up numerous times on television and in various public forums. This February, she led a chant of “Impeach 45” at a gathering of California Democrats. She had done something similar at an awards show last November.
And Waters isn’t alone. Last May, Rep. Al Green introduced articles of impeachment. And billionaire progressive Tom Steyer has run an entire ad campaign pushing for Trump’s impeachment. According to Steyer’s “Need to Impeach” website, over 5.2 million Americans have now signed his impeachment petition.
But wait, there’s more! Last November, six House Democrats led by Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee introduced even more articles of impeachment against the president. Even Sen. Dianne Feinstein appeared to hint at the issue back in December.
So the idea that Rep. Schiff can quietly urge Democrats not to get ahead of themselves is laughable. He’s trying to close the gate after 5.2 million horses have already left the barn. It’s too late to pretend this is about principle rather than partisan politics. Still, it’s really something that, even in this back-handed way, Rep. Schiff is acknowledging that all of the efforts we’ve seen so far look more like attempts to nullify an election than efforts based on principle. For once I agree with him.