Article II, Section 4, of the United States Constitution states that the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Just four months into Donald Trump’s presidency, we have rumors of the first, suspicions of the second, and pretty good evidence, furnished by the president himself, of the third.
A heated debate has broken out on the left as to whether and how hard Democrats should push for Trump’s impeachment. Would his removal from office be a cure worse than the disease, or is the incumbent president such an immediate threat to life on Earth that getting him out of the White House is worth any political cost? We asked four writers to address the question.
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In the wake of the latest torrent of leaks, a lot of Democrats are pushing for Trump’s impeachment. I don’t get the reasoning behind this urge. Leaving aside the unlikelihood of a Republican Congress actually doing the deed, it seems to me the best strategy is to keep this incompetent naïf in the White House as long as possible. His managerial ineptitude, unapologetic repulsiveness, and endless capacity to generate scandal are the best hope for those of us who seek to prevent the GOP from instituting its nefarious agenda.
Trump’s impeachment would bring us President Mike Pence—a profound horror. He’s a fiscal sadist, misogynist, homophobe, and lover of the carceral state. He’s a creationist who rejects climate change, thinks stem-cell research is “obsolete,” and once actually said that “smoking doesn’t kill.” His anti-abortion law in Indiana was the most extreme in the country. Like Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, Pence is a maximalist on drugs, including weed. He’s hot to privatize Social Security. He’s likened the Supreme Court’s upholding of Obamacare to 9/11.
It’s quite likely that Trump’s removal would lead to the political equivalent of what Wall Street calls a “relief rally.” There would be an attempt, coming from “responsible” Democrats and sober pundits, at orchestrating a moment of national healing. Gerald Ford’s pronouncement on Richard Nixon’s resignation that “our long national nightmare is over” would be invoked as a precedent. Historian Douglas Brinkley has already gotten a jump on that, telling Politico, “[Ford was] much like Pence in temperament and personality. He doesn’t have that acerbic side that Nixon and Trump had…. [H]e has made so few enemies.”