What's Tony Thinking

A Trump Tipping Point, Part 2


Earlier this month I wondered in this space if we had finally come to a tipping point on the Presidency of Donald J. Trump.

And things have only cascaded downhill since: the Mattis resignation, the stock market fall, the government shutdown.

Today the venerable Elizabeth Drew, perhaps the most respected reporter to cover Watergate, expressed the view that Trump’s impeachment is inevitable. 

Drew makes a number of salient points, the first of which is that political situations are never ones of stasis, that is static. They are fluid, shaped by events and opinion. This leads Drew to think that the view that the Republican controlled Senate would never muster the votes to convict Trump — a view I’ve held — is probably wrong.

She sees Republicans shifting, the situation is fluid not static. If push comes to shove Republicans will, Drew observes, opt to save themselves politically.

A second key point in Drew’s analysis regards the founders intentions about impeachment. It was not intended, as it was employed against Clinton, for political revenge. It was about holding a President accountable between elections

Here’s Drew:

“Impeachment was the founders’ method of holding a president accountable between elections. Determined to avoid setting up a king in all but name, they put the decision about whether a president should be allowed to continue to serve in the hands of the representatives of the people who elected him.

“The founders understood that overturning the results of a presidential election must be approached with care and that they needed to prevent the use of that power as a partisan exercise or by a faction. So they wrote into the Constitution provisions to make it extremely difficult for Congress to remove a president from office, including that after an impeachment vote in the House, the Senate would hold a trial, with a two-thirds vote needed for conviction.”

Key words there are “determined to avoid setting up a king.”

Trump would like to be a king and keeps trying to govern (if it can called that) as if he had total say and absolute power. Hence his love for autocrats of the world.

The whole tariff war with China is an example of that. He created it, unilaterally. Then he met with the Chinese “emperor” over dinner and called it off.

Or the troops out of Syria. Another unilateral decision. This is the way he really wants to operate. It frustrates him that he is not able to do so in every respect and that the power of the Presidency too is limited.

Drew adds one further point. Trump will want a deal that protects him in order to resign. While she doesn’t think Nixon quite had a quid pro quo (Ford’s pardon), something like will be necessary inducement.

Is Drew right? She is certainly right that political situations are fluid and changing. And she is right that the impeachment process is there to protect the country against would be kings. As to the inevitability of impeachment? Time will tell.


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