Donald Trump has managed to create so many astoundingly negative headlines for himself this past week, it’s almost gotten lost in the shuffle that his impeachment starts tomorrow. It hasn’t gotten much attention, but it’s officially happening tomorrow. Here’s what to expect.
The House Judiciary Committee is voting tomorrow to formalize its impeachment probe against Donald Trump. Committee Chair Jerry Nadler already published the parameters of the probe on Monday, and they’re strikingly similar to the powers that the committee granted itself when it began the impeachment process against Richard Nixon.
To be clear, these are not articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. We’re not there yet. That’s when the committee is ready to send the process to the full House, and then eventually on to the Senate. There would be no point in doing that yet, because as things stand right now, the Republican Senate would decline to remove Trump from office.
Instead, the point of the impeachment probe against Donald Trump is to weaponize evidence and testimony against him, so the House Judiciary Committee can use that evidence and testimony in televised hearings that will help convince Americans that Trump is indeed a deranged criminal who is not fit for the presidency.
The idea, for now, is to use the impeachment process to drive Donald Trump’s ugly approval rating and pathetic 2020 poll numbers further downward. That way, even if it never gets to an impeachment vote, Trump’s 2020 prospects will get torpedoed. If Trump’s popularity is driven low enough, Democrats would go ahead and force an impeachment vote in the Senate. GOP Senators would then be forced to marry themselves to Trump’s failed presidency by voting not to remove him, which could be used against them in their own reelection races. And if Trump’s popularity is driven really low by the impeachment probe, we could see some GOP Senators decide that they have to oust Trump in order to mitigate their own 2020 losses.
But we’re not there yet. There’s a notion out there that impeachment is a magic wand that will somehow cause Donald Trump to instantly fall through a trap door, and that Nancy Pelosi is simply unwilling to wave it – but nothing works that way. There’s also a competing notion out there that if this gets as far as an impeachment vote and Trump isn’t ousted, that’ll somehow magically make him popular enough to get reelected – but nothing works that way either.
The impeachment process is long, complex, full of court battles over testimony and evidence, and carried out in a lengthy series of hearings. It’s a grind. That’s simply what impeachment really is, regardless of the misperceptions about it. The key is that it officially begins tomorrow. One thing to keep in mind: the committee wouldn’t be doing this tomorrow if it weren’t already close to having secured enough evidence and testimony to make its case in televised committee hearings. House Democrats must be sitting on more evidence than they’re letting on.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report