The Memo: Democrats scorn GOP warnings on impeachment
Democrats are pressing full steam ahead to impeach President Trump for a second time, mocking Republican objections that doing so will deepen divisions in the nation.
Democrats are particularly scornful of Republicans who have supported Trump through the many tribulations of his presidency, yet who now say the impeachment process would impede a process of healing.
“When we talk about healing, the process of healing is separate and in fact requires accountability,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “And so if we allow insurrection against the United States with impunity — with no accountability — we are inviting it to happen again. That is how serious it is.”
Moe Vela, who served as director of administration in then-Vice President Joe Biden’s office during the Obama administration, told The Hill that the GOP argument for comity now “is laughable, it really is.”
“And it is disgraceful, frankly,” he added. “For four years, you have been complicit, enabling a man who has said and done things that you would never let your children say or do. And now you are worried about unity? Give me a break.”
GOP voices continued to be raised on Monday making the “unity” argument.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted that “a second impeachment will do far more harm than good.” Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who was hand-picked by Trump for that role, complained that “impeachment proceedings will only divide us further” at a time when “our country needs to heal and unify.”
Both Graham and McDaniel have been vigorous supporters of Trump throughout his tenure.
House Democrats introduced a single article of impeachment against Trump on Monday. The charge is incitement of insurrection. A vote is expected on Wednesday and Democrats are confident they have the numbers to win.
Trump was previously impeached in December 2019 for his conduct regarding the government of Ukraine, which he pressured to investigate the Biden family.
Democrats argue that simply putting a second historical black mark against Trump’s name is reason enough to proceed.
“I don’t know what is going to happen in the Senate, but I would be satisfied with his obituary noting that he is the only president to be impeached twice,” said Jim Manley, a onetime aide to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Another Democratic strategist, Robert Shrum, insisted that, “I think you don’t have any choice” but to pursue Trump’s impeachment. “The president incited an insurrection against the Democratic process. If that is not impeachable, what is?”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) sent his colleagues a letter Monday — first reported by Punchbowl News — in which he laid out other measures to ensure the mob violence seen at the Capitol last Wednesday was “rightfully denounced and prevented from occurring in the future.”
One such proposal was a censure resolution.
However, two Republicans in the upper chamber — Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Pat Toomey (Pa.) — have already said Trump should resign.
Democrats, for their part, simply won’t countenance anything less than impeachment — and certainly not at the behest of McCarthy, who was among those voting to raise objections to Biden’s election win, right after a mob had ransacked the Capitol.
Democratic divisions, such as there are, concern the issue of timing.
If Trump is impeached by the House, and the House then sends the article of impeachment directly to the Senate, the upper chamber must begin its trial process immediately. The House could also hold on to the formal notification of impeachment, to allow the Senate to focus on the early days of Biden’s agenda.
Biden on Monday said he had floated the idea of allowing the Senate to “bifurcate” its business, so it would spend “half day on dealing with impeachment, and half day getting my people nominated and confirmed in the Senate” as well as working on other legislation.
It is not yet clear whether this is possible under the Senate’s often-arcane rules.
The nuts and bolts of the process concern some Democrats.
“I think the challenge is if this bleeds over into the new term,” said one Democratic strategist who asked for anonymity to speak candidly. “There is no question that Trump should be impeached and convicted but the problem is, how much time is there left? Do Democrats really want to give Trump the opportunity, in the first weeks of a Biden administration, to dominate the narrative?”
The attempted coup at the Capitol last week is so recent that pollsters are only beginning to gauge public reaction.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday found that voters overall favored Trump’s removal from office, by 52 percent to 45 percent. A broadly similar share believed he should resign. Trump’s job approval in the poll, just 33 percent, was tied for his all-time low.
But that same poll also showed, yet again, the extent to which the nation is cleaved in two.
Ninety percent of Democratic voters asserted that the GOP members of Congress who tried to stop the certification of Biden’s victory were “undermining” democracy. Twenty-three percent of Republicans agreed, but 70 percent of Republicans said those members were in fact “protecting” democracy. Seventy-three percent of Republicans contended, against the evidence, that there was “widespread voter fraud” in the election.
But for Trump critics, the impeachment issue is far too elemental to be affected by polling, one way or another.
Trump “simply has got to be held accountable for what he’s done,” said Manley, “while demonstrating to his supporters that there are clear lines that we aren’t going to allow to be crossed.”
The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage.