Opinion

A path to impeachment?

Our politics may have reached the breaking point.

Increasingly divisive, there is no bipartisan support for any direction or new policy — no intellectual grounding and no vision of the common good. Critics, not only MSNBC, have described the Trump presidency with words such as nativism, xenophobia and misogyny.

Republicans leaders have a new tax plan, albeit one filled with individual agendas and favors. Middle America appeared to be wary, then disappointed, by a tax plan that substantially increases the national debt. North Korea’s nuclear arms program continues to be the most worrying flashpoint. Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s clandestine support of the Trump election, continues to unsettle the Republican base, while Trump warns that the investigation constitutes a “violation.” Looking ahead, as the Obamacare (ACA) infrastructure collapses in 2018, Republicans will bear blame for the coming health care chaos. A spectacularly blundering, unproductive Trump administration may be on a path to impeachment.

There is much to consider. The recent elections in Virginia and Alabama suggest a new voter trend. Democratic voter turnout was huge, rural white voters stayed home, Republican turnout was low, African-American voters were motivated, and the GOP civil war goes on. This voting trend may shape next year’s mid-term House and Senate races, and the fate of Trump’s presidency will hang in the balance.

A year ago, Democrats spoke of the 2018 midterm elections as an opportunity to make gains in the House and, perhaps, keep from losing seats in the Senate. In the House, Democrats have to win back 24 seats to regain control. In the Senate, 25 of the 33 senators up for re-election are Democrats or independents who caucus with them, it will take an all-out effort. Republicans are handicapped by intraparty war between angry populists, fired up by Stephen Bannon and his Breitbart News website, and the party leadership. Trump’s political fate may ultimately hinge on corrections to gerrymandered districts, and an unforgiving electorate. Impeachment by a Democratic House becomes a possibility; impeachment by a Democratic House and Senate is more than a possibility.

In October, the Supreme Court heard arguments over whether it should limit politicians from tinkering with legislative district lines to advantage their own party. The Wisconsin case, Gill v. Whitford, involves a Republican effort to entrench the GOP’s hold on the state legislature, through sophisticated computer modeling. The decision by the Court to consider Wisconsin’s skewed map was the first sign that the Justices might be willing to intervene — and, ultimately, to hand the redistricting process to independent, nonpartisan committees.

Another case, Benisek v. Lamone, considers gerrymandering by Maryland Democrats. And Pennsylvania expects to forward a case against contrived, zigzag partisan voting districts that disproportionately favor Republican candidates. It’s rare for the Supreme Court to take up a second (and third) case concerning an issue it is already considering. This may signal the Court’s willingness to strike down extreme gerrymanders. Depending how the case is decided, a quick redrawing of voting districts before the 2018 midterm elections can change the election. And new rules for how congressional districts are remade after each census can correct the gerrymandered districts.

There are two potential nightmares for the White House: Trump world financial entanglements with Russians giving the Kremlin leverage and Trump-obstructed justice stopping investigators from finding out. Whatever Mueller concludes, if the Democrats take back the House of Representatives in the midterm elections and the Senate gets a Democratic majority, the Trump presidency is in trouble.

The path to impeachment is not meant to be easy. Our “Framers,” trying to preclude the sorts of corruption seen in Britain’s Parliament, based the new American government on separation of powers.

The Executive has protections. In the House of Representatives, the House Judiciary Committee decides whether or not to proceed with impeachment. The Chairman will propose a resolution calling for a formal inquiry. The House Judiciary Committee then decides whether to proceed with impeachment. The Chair will propose a resolution calling for a formal inquiry. The Committee will send another resolution to the full House stating why impeachment is warranted or not. The House will debate and vote on each Article of Impeachment.

If any of these Articles of Impeachment are approved by a simple majority vote, the President will be “impeached.” However, there must still be a trial. The Senate formulates rules and procedures for holding a trial and will meet in private session to debate a verdict. The Senate, in open session, will vote on a verdict. A  2/3 vote of the Senate will result in a conviction. The Senate will vote to remove the president from office.

The House impeaches; the Senate convicts. Then we have President Pence and a Democratic House and Senate. North Korea fires another missile into the Pacific Ocean. And it’s time to prepare for the 2020 elections.

Carl Evensen is a resident of Ferguson Township.

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