Impeach Trump if he fires Mueller? Looks like just a Democratic dream

Impeach Trump if he fires Mueller? Looks like just a Democratic dream
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One week after the State of the Union address and the president’s call for national unity, America remains no less divided and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump threatens ex-intel official's clearance, citing comments on CNN Protesters topple Confederate monument on UNC campus Man wanted for threatening to shoot Trump spotted in Maryland MORE has since branded the Democrats as treasonous amidst a stock market meltdown. Almost on cue, a Quinnipiac poll released on Tuesday revealed a country riven by politics, nowhere more so than if the president fires Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, the special counsel.

By a whisker-thin 47 percent to 46 percent, the public opposes Trump’s impeachment and removal from office if special counsel Robert Mueller gets the boot. Separately, over in the Sunshine State, opponents of impeachment hold a six-point lead. Surprising? Not at all.

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To put things into perspective, back in October 1973, in the immediate aftermath of the Saturday Night Massacre when President Nixon engineered the firing of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor looking at Watergate, only 28 percent believed that “Nixon should be impeached and compelled to leave the presidency.” Indeed, just the prior November, the United States had reelected Nixon in a landslide.

Fast forward to August 1974. Less than a year after Cox was sacked, the House Judiciary Committee cast a bipartisan vote to impeach Nixon and the Supreme Court unanimously ordered him to produce the Watergate tapes. Nixon ultimately resigned from office.

So what gives? Although Americans are fans of transparency, they are rightly cautious about disruption. For the moment, impeachment appears to be an item that appears solely on the bucket list of Democrats, with Republicans, Independents, and even white college graduates, unsold on cashiering the president, at least not for sacking Mueller, at least not at this juncture.

But this is not to say the country believes that Trump has been forthcoming. A majority of Americans believe that the president has attempted to “derail or obstruct” the Mueller investigation. Likewise, 50 percent of voters reject the contention that the special counsel is engaged in a “witch hunt” and instead see Mueller’s efforts as legitimate. In fact, two-thirds believe it inappropriate for a “president to ask Justice Department officials for loyalty,” while 55 percent agree the FBI is not biased against Trump.

Against this parade of numbers, resistance to impeachment cannot be not viewed as unqualified approval of the president. Rather, queasiness over impeachment appears to be about continuity, disdain for the din that has been become our discourse, and exhaustion. Voters are not eager to relitigate the 2016 election, and they are wary of chaos. It is not just about impeachment.

The same hold true when it comes to immigration. According to Quinnipiac, more than 80 percent support allowing Dreamers to remain in the United States and apply for citizenship. To be sure, support for Dreamers cuts across party, gender, education, age, and race. Yet, by a two-to-one margin the public opposes another shutdown over immigration, with nearly three-in-five Democrats giving a thumbs down to the idea.

So what if Trump said that he would “love to see a shutdown” over immigration in a dyspeptic pique? Apparently, some things are not meant to be taken seriously or literally. For now, impeachment is premature. As long Republicans control the House, impeachment remains a mere hypothetical. Beyond that, we have yet to hear what Mueller has to say.

Still, 2018 is not 1974. Our politics are far more polarized. There is no reason to assume that an impeachment of Donald Trump would be any less of a partisan affair than Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonConservative commentator: Trump administration 'can’t keep gaslighting people' MTV launches initiative to get young people to register to vote Booming economy, kept promises, making America great — again MORE’s impeachment in the 1990s, or resemble the Nixon impeachment campaign. These days, tribalism appears to be the rage. A vast majority of voters say congressional Republicans and Democrats put party over country, with Republicans and Democrats alike are wedded to their respective brands of identity politics.

Was it always like this? Not exactly. Back in the summer of 1974, southern Democrats like Walter Flowers of Alabama and James Mann of South Carolina allied with Republican Hamilton Fish of New York. Republican Caldwell Butler of Virginia and Democrat Barbara Jordan of Texas reached across the aisle. Common good ultimately transcended party, race, and region. Now, as in 1998, the strains of impeachment mask our own partisan civil war. Prudence is in order.

Lloyd Green was the opposition research counsel to the George H.W. Bush campaign in 1988 and later served in the U.S. Department of Justice.