If you’re like me, you’ve been walking around with a spring in your step. For the first time since November, we have all begun to feel a glimmer of hope.
Every day, there’s a new revelation about the administration’s ties to Russia. President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey and then admitted he did it to stop the FBI’s investigation of his administration. Then, the Department of Justice appointed a well-respected special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, who will most certainly get to the bottom of it.
Impeachment is beginning to seem inevitable. But is it truly? Let’s review the impeachment process and the likelihood of the 45th president actually being removed from office …
Step 1: To launch the impeachment process, any member of the House of Representatives calls for an investigation into the president’s activities. This is surely imminent, as there are plenty of Democratic members who are champing at the bit.
Step 2: The House Judiciary Committee agrees to conduct an investigation. Note that the committee is chaired by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican who is in bed with the Trump administration. Goodlatte’s own staff served on Trump’s transition team and helped write the president’s immigration ban. So, umm … yeah. The likelihood of Goodlatte agreeing to an investigation is very low.
Step 3: After an investigation, the House Judiciary Committee finds that the president has committed an impeachable offense. Article II of the U.S. Constitution lists impeachable offenses as “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” This is really just a fancy way of saying that Congress can remove the president if they really don’t like him. There is no specific legal standard, as we saw when President Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about a sexual affair. In Trump’s case, the committee can drag out an investigation as long as it wants, and probably would, given that the committee is controlled by the president’s own party.
Step 4: If the House Judiciary Committee approves the Articles of Impeachment, House Speaker Paul Ryan must agree to put it on the agenda for the full House of Representatives. Ryan hasn’t seemed interested in impeachment, since it would derail the Republican Congress’ legislative agenda.
Step 5: A simple majority of the House of Representatives votes to approve the Articles of Impeachment. Again, this seem extremely unlikely without some other turn of events that make it politically impossible for the GOP to continue backing their president.
Step 6: The Senate conducts an impeachment trial, over which the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would have control over the trial’s pace and scheduling and he could torpedo it completely if he wanted — and he would. McConnell’s wife serves in Trump’s cabinet, and McConnell himself has repeatedly defended the president against calls for an investigation.
Step 7: If, by some miracle, the impeachment trial ends and the Senate is called to vote on convicting the president, the president is removed if two-thirds of senators vote yes. Two thirds! It’s a high bar. To reach this threshold, every Democratic senator and 21 Republican senators would need to vote to convict.
As you can see, the impeachment process would take a very long time and it is fraught with partisan obstacles. You may be disappointed by this news, but I’m going to argue that this is a very good thing.
If you hate everything Trump stands for, you actually want this process to take a very long time. You want Mueller’s investigation to drag on until November 2020. You want to hang Trump’s every treasonous act, every crime and misdemeanor around the Republican Party’s neck.
The more deranged and criminal this president is, the more likely we are to win the Congress back in 2018 and win the White House in 2020. But Trump needs to remain in office — and he needs to keep tweeting the crazy.
Think about it: News about the administration’s Russia connections has already derailed the GOP’s heinous agenda. Remember four weeks ago, when the House passed their cruel and misguided health care bill that would have taken away health insurance from 23 million Americans? It’s been sidelined by Comey’s firing and every other thing that followed. And how about Trump’s god-awful budget proposal? Google “dead on arrival” and see what comes up.
Besides, if Trump is impeached, the next president would be just as conservative, intolerant and misogynistic — only smarter. It’s true that a President Mike Pence would be less likely to get us involved in a land war in Asia, but he is more likely to use his power to systematically dismantle the civil rights of Americans. I know it’s hard to imagine another 43 months of a Trump presidency, but that might just be what it takes to obliterate the Republican party as we know it. And that will make it worth the wait.
Alix Rosenthal is a municipal attorney, nasty woman and progressive activist who mentors and trains women to run for political office. She can be found on Twitter at @alixro and her blog is at www.votealix.com.