The Daily Memphian columnist Michael Nelson has some discouraging words for U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, on his quest to impeach U.S. Republican President Donald Trump.
Cohen might not attain his goal, Nelson said in a column published this week.
“Cohen’s efforts to force the president from office began in August 2017, barely six months after Trump began his term. He first argued that because ‘high crimes and misdemeanor’ – the Constitution’s definition of an impeachable offense – are anything Congress says they are, Trump theoretically could be impeached ‘for jaywalking,’” Nelson wrote.
“The congressman from Memphis got a bit more serious – but only a bit – in November 2017, when he and five other Democrats introduced an impeachment resolution charging Trump with, among other things, firing FBI director James Comey, calling a federal judge ‘a so-called judge’ and the media ‘fake news,’ and violating the Constitution’s emoluments clauses through continued ownership of rental properties in New York and Washington.”
Since the Democrats won control of the House of Representatives last November, Cohen has renewed his call, Nelson wrote.
But there’s a problem.
Members of the U.S. House impeached former presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton — but members of the U.S. Senate did not remove them. Richard Nixon resigned before Congress could impeach him, Nelson wrote.
“Four elements account for the varying ways Congress dealt with Johnson (a very close call), Nixon (a clear rejection), and Clinton (close in the House, but not in the Senate). A fifth element that applies only to Trump makes it even less likely that he will be driven out,” Nelson said.
“As might be expected from a constitutional process that entrusts impeachment to elected officials, partisan politics is the first historical element.”
Democrats control the U.S. House. Republicans control the U.S. Senate.
The president’s standing with the voters is the second element.
“A third element in explaining impeachment politics is the immediate practical consequence of forcing out a president. To remove one president is to install another,” Nelson wrote. As for the fourth element, “public attitudes toward impeachment in general color the likelihood that a president may be impeached.”
“Every president since Clinton – George W. Bush, Barack Obama and now Trump – has been the object of a grassroots campaign to impeach him by opposition party activists,” Nelson wrote.
“In the contemporary climate of bitter partisanship, impeachment strikes many as just another method of ‘politics by other means.’”
Trump is up for re-election next year, Nelson wrote.
“By the time an impeachment process could even get rolling, voters will already be casting ballots in Iowa and New Hampshire,” Nelson wrote.
“In other words, there’s no reason not to let the American people take care of removing Trump if that’s what they want. Cohen and his fellow impeachment advocates will surely continue to enjoy rubbing each others’ sores when it comes to hating Trump. They may even score some political points on the left by doing so. But for those who want a different president, the electoral process is the only serious route to change.”
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Steve Cohen” by Steve Cohen. Photo “Donald Trump” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.