by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
[I]mpeachment is inherently political. Here, it has been launched when we are less than a year out from an election in which the American people are supposed determine for themselves whether the president should keep his job. By the time impeachment has run its course, we could be just a few months from Election Day. Apparently, though, the political class is intent on end-running the sovereign, attempting to remove President Trump on its own. To pull that off, it will need to convince the country that (a) it has grounds so extraordinarily serious that Trump must be ousted forthwith and (b) the procedures under which it impeached were fundamentally fair.
I don’t think they have a prayer of demonstrating the former, such that two-thirds of the GOP-controlled Senate would be spurred to remove the president. (Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is hovering around 90 percent.) As for the latter concern, due process, there must be some and it must be meaningful — not because it is legally mandated, but because it is politically essential.
This is why many of the more pragmatic Democrats knew impeachment was a bad idea. As a practical matter, they don’t have close to the votes to remove, so it’s doomed to fail. The public knows it’s doomed to fail and may well resent Democrats for gratuitously putting the country through it. If Trump is denied due process, the proceedings will look like a kangaroo court and Democrats will be blamed. And if Trump is afforded due process, the case he presents may damage Democrats come November.