Juan Williams: Don't rule out impeaching Trump

Juan Williams: Don't rule out impeaching Trump
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Impeach him?

That is the question for the Democratic majority in the House.

Last week, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMoulton drops out of presidential race after struggling to gain traction Conservatives push Trump tariff relief over payroll tax cuts Democrats press FBI, DHS on response to white supremacist violence MORE (D-Calif.) said she is against impeachment unless Democrats and Republicans come together and call for it. She is rejecting what the GOP did to President Clinton — impeachment with no plausible path to a Senate vote to remove him from office.

This means the key is Republican opinion.

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Democrats are ready to go. 

Sixty-six percent of Democrats told a Quinnipiac University poll released this month that Congress “should begin the process to impeach President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE.”

But among Republicans, only 6 percent said it is time for impeachment.

In fact, just 21 percent of Republicans believe special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE’s investigation into possible conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia is legitimate, according to a December Quinnipiac poll.

That fits with an NPR/Marist poll, also from December, that found 71 percent of Republicans stand by the president’s claim that he is the victim of a “witch hunt.” 

Now for a dose of reality.

That same poll found “a majority of independents and 4 in 5 Democrats see Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as ‘fair.’”

That means all that stands between Trump and impeachment hearings is a thin but unbending reed of support from the declining number of Americans who identify as Republicans. 

More than a few formerly loyal Republicans have departed as the GOP has become the Party of Trump.

The result is that Trump can point to support among the remaining Republicans as sky high, near 90 percent, and claim to be the most popular Republican in history.

This political distortion remains a stubborn reality even as Gallup’s most recent poll has Trump’s approval rating among all Americans dropping to only 39 percent.

Megan Brenan of Gallup wrote that “approval of Trump remains sharply polarized — 90 percent of Republicans, 33 percent of independents and 4 percent of Democrats currently approve.”

Even in the face of guilty pleas, convictions and evidence of repeated contacts between Russians and Trump campaign officials, the Trump media and his political supporters reflexively revert to giving blind support to the president.

Somehow they don’t see that Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortEx-Trump campaign aide Rick Gates testifies against former Obama counsel Gregory Craig Trial of ex-Obama White House counsel suddenly postponed Top Mueller probe prosecutor to join Georgetown Law as lecturer MORE, and his former personal lawyer, Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenCapitol Police advised Gaetz against holding open events I'm not a Nazi, I'm just a dude: What it's like to be the other Steve King Wyden blasts FEC Republicans for blocking probe into NRA over possible Russia donations MORE, are on their way to jail.

They dismiss the reality that Cohen now describes Trump as a “racist,” a “con man,” and a “cheat.”

After that testimony, polls found more Americans believe Cohen than believe Trump.

But once again, Trump’s faithful stayed behind the president.

To get a clear picture of the current grip Trump has on what remains of the GOP, take another look at the Quinnipiac poll this month. Eighty-nine percent of Democrats said Trump “committed crimes before he became president.” 

But 48 percent of Republicans say that is not true. 

This is not just a political difference of opinion between Republicans and Democrats.

“Every other listed party, gender, education, age and racial group says by wide margins that Trump committed crimes,” Quinnipiac reported.

To tune into Trump’s defenders — online, on radio and on television — is to hear the president portrayed as a man hunted by a mob of Democrats, elites, ‘Deep State’ actors in the FBI and CIA, and even Republicans from Mueller to former FBI director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces Sarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 MORE and former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsA better way to run the Federal Bureau of Prisons Trump admin erases key environmental enforcement tool DOJ should take action against China's Twitter propaganda MORE

Last week, however, some light made its way through Trump’s iron curtain.

He lost a slice of Republican support in the House and Senate as both chambers voted to disapprove of his declaration of a national emergency after Congress turned down his request for money to build a border wall.

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This was a rare rebuke of the president by the Republican-controlled Senate. And it wasn’t just moderates like Maine’s Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: Insurance lobby chief calls Biden, Sanders health plans 'similarly bad' | Trump officials appeal drug price disclosure ruling | Study finds 1 in 7 people ration diabetes medicine due to cost Collins downplays 2020 threat: 'Confident' reelection would go well if she runs Cook Political Report moves Susan Collins Senate race to 'toss up' MORE and Alaska’s Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOvernight Energy: Green groups sue Trump over Endangered Species Act changes | Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency | Wildfires in Amazon rainforest burn at record rate Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency out west The Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate MORE. Conservatives who are normally allies of the president, such as Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads What the gun safety debate says about Washington Trump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China MORE (Fla.), Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerWill Congress act to stop robocalls? Hillicon Valley: Trump reportedly weighing executive action on alleged tech bias | WH to convene summit on online extremism | Federal agencies banned from buying Huawei equipment | Lawmakers jump start privacy talks The Hill's Morning Report - How will Trump be received in Dayton and El Paso? MORE (Miss.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns MORE (Pa.), also broke with him.

Once again, the Trump echo chamber got busy attacking Republicans who voted their conscience, deriding them as weaklings.

So Pelosi has a point when she predicts that impeaching Trump would be “divisive to the country.”

Respectfully, Speaker Pelosi, the Constitution says Congress has a duty to impeach the president if it finds that he has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.” There is no exception stating “unless it divides the country.”

And Pelosi can’t stop the approaching 2020 primaries.

Aided by the subpoena power of House Democrats, new information about the president’s business dealings, both foreign and domestic, is likely to raise eyebrows during the campaign, even among Trump’s myopic loyalists. 

In addition, the GOP will also be defending 22 Senate seats to keep their majority in 2020. Do those 22 senators really want their careers to come down to a referendum on Trump? 

Impeachment might not seem so divisive a short time from now.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.