A number of fence-sitting House Democrats, including our own Rep. Antonio Delgado, have come under pressure in recent weeks to support a misguided and quixotic attempt to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
Delgado was among 137 Democrats who in July voted to halt a motion to begin impeachment, a vote that drew criticism from anti-Trump advocacy groups. But with any such measure facing a dead end in the Senate, we can’t help but wonder why so many seem to think this should be a priority for the Democrats in control of Congress’ lower chamber.
To be clear, the president is a treacherous criminal who has shown repeatedly that he is not fit to run the White House. After moving into politics from a real estate career that was based largely on tax fraud, Trump won the presidency in part through the help of a “sweeping and systematic campaign” on his behalf by Russian operatives, as documented in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation earlier this year. During Mueller’s investigation, Trump repeatedly pressured witnesses such as ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort to not testify against him and teased the possibility of pardons for those willing to go to prison on the president’s behalf.
When Mueller’s investigation drew uncomfortably close to Trump and his inner circle, Trump fired then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions for allowing an independent investigation of Trump in the first place. Sessions had recused himself from the probe for failing to disclose a meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak while working for the Trump campaign. Trump then replaced Sessions with William Barr, a man who applied for the job by sending an unsolicited letter to the White House arguing that the case against Trump could be thwarted.
In releasing his report, Mueller went out of his way to note that if he could have exonerated the president, he would have. He did not, because the report itself makes it abundantly clear that Trump obstructed justice and tampered with witnesses.
Now that his fellow Republicans have proven they will let him get away with anything, Trump is breaking the law with impunity. In August, Trump told two of his top aides to force the construction of his long-cherished border wall, and that if they had to break the law to do so, he would simply pardon them. This nakedly corrupt promise is more than just a blatant violation of federal bribery statutes; it’s an indictment of the spineless sycophants in Trump’s party who seem to have no problem watching the United States descend to a banana republic.
Here lies the problem with impeachment: no matter how dishonest, destructive and criminal this president may be, he will never, under any circumstances, be held accountable by his cowardly Senate supporters. They’ve hitched their careers to Trump’s cult of personality, and as Trump himself has bragged, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
Even amid a well-documented campaign by the Kremlin to interfere with U.S. elections that has included two successful attempts to breach voting databases in Florida, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has blocked a series of bills to improve voting security. Even if the House were to pass an impeachment resolution, the notion that McConnell would allow the Senate to act on it seems far-fetched.
The pressure that vulnerable House Democrats are facing from their more-liberal constituents to impeach Trump is in some ways understandable. No U.S. president, not even Richard Nixon, has ever abused the power of the office so flagrantly. But asking powerless House Democrats such as Delgado whether they plan to remove the president seems like a pointless waste of time.