The Thinker: Rich Galen


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That "I" Word Again

Rich Galen

Thursday May 9, 2019

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  • Ringo Starr was once said being the drummer in a band like the Beatles was like holding back runaway horses.

  • Whether that's an actual quote or not, I bet that's the way House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is feeling these days when it comes to holding her caucus back from impeaching Donald Trump.

  • The U.S. Constitution doesn't limit impeachment to just a President. Article II, Section 4 states:
    The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

  • Note the phrase, "all civil officers of the United States."

  • In fact, according to the U.S. House web page, 17 federal civil officers (not counting Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton) have been impeached by the House. All but two were Federal judges.

  • Of those, seven were found guilty by the Senate and the rest were either acquitted or resigned prior to a Senate trial.

  • Getting back to the Speaker, back in March she said, "He's just not worth it," when asked about impeaching Trump. This week she revised and amended her remarks, saying that Trump is "becoming self-impeachable."

  • In a Washington Post piece, columnist Amber Phillips quotes Pelosi as saying:
    "Every single day, whether it's obstruction, obstruction, obstruction - obstruction of having people come to the table with facts, ignoring subpoenas, every single day, the president is making a case - he's becoming self-impeachable, in terms of some of the things that he is doing."

  • On December 19, 1998 the House voted to impeach Bill Clinton on one count of perjury and one of obstruction of justice. According to a Time Magazine piece on the 20th anniversary of Clinton's impeachment:
    "Prosecutors alleged that Clinton had perjured himself by testifying to investigators that he had not had "sexual relations" with Monica Lewinsky, and that he had attempted to encourage White House staff to give false testimony by denying the relationship."

  • House Republicans had spent the better part of that year making the case to the American public that Clinton was guilty. In the election of 1998 - about six weeks before the impeachment vote - Republicans lost a net five seats. In a mid-term election they had been expected to pick up between 8 and 12 seats.

  • That result went long way toward costing Newt Gingrich his job as Speaker.

  • None of that is lost on Pelosi.

  • She knows, or at least is concerned, that a long, bitter impeachment fight in the House might have a similar negative impact on the future of Democratic candidates by energizing Republican voters.

  • Republicans need to win a net 18 seats to regain control of the House. 31 Democrats are serving in districts that Trump won in 2016.

  • What with 2020 being a Presidential (as opposed to a mid-term) election, an impeachment fight might well drive up GOP turnout to the point that not only would Trump be re-elected, but Republicans might regain control of the House.

  • Trump's declared policy of stonewalling everyone asking for anything all the time might wear thin especially on soft-Trump supporters.

  • But, the Judiciary Committee's vote to hold Attorney General William Barr (who, as a "civil officer of the United States," is eligible to be impeached) in contempt over his refusal to fork over the full library of Mueller report documents sounded to my ears like they were straining to create a Constitutional Anxiety Attack.

  • The cable networks responded by turning the "Constitutional Crisis" dial up to 11.

  • Bill Barr may be the farthest thing from a jolly old Smurf as exists in Our Nation's Capital, but I don't know that this was the best case for the House Democrats to convince America they are on the right track.

  • This is all background noise to Pelosi. She's got 234 other members of the Democratic caucus who are beginning to snort and stomp like Ringo's herd of horses. She has to keep them from stampeding down the path of impeachment.

  • In the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the House Historian's page listing all impeachments, to Pelosi's "self-impeachment" quote, and to the Time Magazine discussion on the 20th anniversary of the Clinton impeachment vote.

    The Mullfoto is of a garden with a sign that says "Garden" just in case you missed the flowers.

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