The Impeachment Conundrum
Having come under armed attack spurred on by the lies of a psychopath, Pelosi and other House members moved quickly to declare said psychopath was a danger to the nation by impeaching him. Again.
Congress has a single option to directly address an imminent danger in the White House — Impeachment. Weirdly, it is up to the Vice President to initiate an attempt to remove HIS President under the 25th Amendment (talk about conflicts of interest!), and it is widely agreed that the Justice Department cannot indict a sitting President.
Now the psychopath is out of office, and the weeks since the deadly assault he promoted have given Republicans an opportunity to – wait for it – CLOSE RANKS behind a man who told the insurrectionist crowd chanting “Hang Mike Pence” that he loves them.
As a result, conviction in the Senate on the single Article of Impeachment adopted by the House seems highly unlikely. The other BIG reason for convicting a President (already headed for the door) would be to prevent him from ever holding federal office again.
Most grating of all, failure to convict would inevitably be portrayed by the already-ex President as “total exoneration” to millions of Americans.
One might ask, “why give him the chance?”
First and foremost, impeachment was DESERVED. If inciting an armed mob to storm the seat of government isn’t enough to justify impeachment, what might be?
And, in the wake of the insurrection, it seemed possible, if not probable, that the Senate might convict.
So, this second impeachment almost inevitably will end the way the first did: with a failure to convict.
Congress will undoubtedly then have to consider censure motions – which is nothing more than a punishment-free slap on the wrist embossed with the seal of the House or Senate, suitable for framing but NOT for putting an ex-president in his rightfully disgraced place in history.
While such a scolding will pose no actual risk to its target (reputational risk being already largely assured), Congressional Republicans will be forced to go on record one way or the other. It’s one thing to hide behind a phony constitutional argument about impeaching a president no longer in office; it’s another entirely to say that President’s behavior does not merit even a TOOTHLESS rebuke!
Still, impeachment is the Constitution’s only way for Congress to get rid of a bad President.
Now we’ve gotten rid of a severely scarred ex-President who is unlikely to again seek federal office, whether because of his age or because he’s learned that he really doesn’t handle rejection well.
Which is all we really wanted from the beginning.
Therefore, although it may seem namby-pamby, the best solution now is to forsake the formality of a Senate trial whose outcome is pre-determined and move directly to censure.