Impeachment can't wait

Impeachment can't wait
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Beating Donald Trump in 2020 will be like taking down an octopus with augmented reality weapons in a mixed martial arts (MMA) fight. President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE has shown he will say anything, use any weapon and accept any assistance to stay in the White House. Both the Mueller Report and the Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report by the House Intelligence Committee lay this out in detail. In that kind of contest, Democrats can’t count on an umpire to call fouls. There is no referee. The Dems’ must use every tool at their disposal, and if they think the president deserves to be impeached, they shouldn’t think twice about it. Throw everything at the Trump octopus and hold down as many of its legs as possible.

Not everyone agrees. Some critics advise Democrats to wait until 2020 and let voters have their say at the ballot box. But that fundamentally misunderstands presidential elections. Elections are choices between imperfect options, not up or down votes on individual candidates. They are more about the voters’ future than the candidates’ pasts.

Following a quick victory in the first Persian Gulf War, President George H.W. Bush had a 74 percent approval rating in the fall of 1991. A year later, voters chose Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonTrump lawyers attack House impeachment as 'brazen and unlawful' effort to overturn 2016 results Trump chooses high-profile but controversial legal team The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump beefs up impeachment defense with Dershowitz, Starr MORE, “The Man from Hope” who was ready to “turn the page” to “the economy, stupid.”

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A year before the 2012 election, Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaNational Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Climate 'religion' is fueling Australia's wildfires Biden's new campaign ad features Obama speech praising him MORE’s approval rating was underwater, according to Gallup. In fact, President Obama didn’t cross the 50 percent threshold again until September of the 2012 election year. When Republicans chose financial executive Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe TRUST Act is a plot to gut Social Security behind closed doors Republicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment Bring on the brokered convention MORE in the wake of the 2008-09 financial crisis, the Obama team successfully defined Romney as part of the problem, not the solution.

It’s possible voters may be disgusted by Trump in 2020 — fed up, in fact — but may be presented with an alternative they find even more odorous. What happens if the Democratic nominee is arrested for murder three weeks before Election Day? It’s unlikely, but just explore the option. Voters may decide a scoundrel is preferable to an actual murderer. Would that mean voters approved of Trump’s alleged attempts to procure personal benefits from official actions? Of course not. Elections are choices, not referenda.

What if Trump is impeached and the Senate, as expected, does not convict? Impeachment naysayers fret that he will declare victory and make harder the campaign against him. Maybe, but imagine if the Democrats don’t impeach Trump and he wins next year. Then people will say, “It’s too late to impeach the guy. The voters have spoken.” If you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, do it.

It’s not House Democrats’ job to absolve Senate Republicans of their constitutional responsibility. And since there is no recall provision in the Constitution, the only way for the House to hold Trump accountable is through impeachment. Arguing that Democrats shouldn’t impeach the president because the Senate won’t convict is like arguing that a Supreme Court justice shouldn’t write a dissenting opinion because it won’t become case law. There is merit in laying out the case for future public officials and history. As recently deceased Congressman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBaltimore unveils plaques for courthouse to be named after Elijah Cummings GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts Pelosi taps Virginia Democrat for key post on economic panel MORE (D-Md.) reminded his colleagues: “This is our watch.”

Back to the octopus.

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Donald Trump lies in public without worry over consequence. Remember the Sharpie-altered hurricane map? Imagine what he might do or say in private. His campaign has built a massive data marketing machine. Who knows what they might promote under the cloak of internet anonymity. Whomever the Democrats nominate will come under the most intense scrutiny and relentless attacks we have ever seen, and outright lies are not out of the question.

On June 17, 2019, the president told George Stephanopoulos on national television that if foreigners offered dirt on opponents, “I think I’d take it.” That interview was just weeks before Trump allegedly solicited such help from Ukraine.

Democrats tend to worry too much about the rules. They should follow the law, but in this MMA fight against Trump there are no holds barred. Let’s put it in more Trumpian terms: The Democrats can’t play like it’s the baccarat table in Monte Carlo when Trump is playing like it’s a pool hall in Atlantic City.

Democrats shouldn’t leave the problem they face in 2019 to the 2020 elections. If they think he’s guilty, impeach Trump now.

Jamal Simmons is a Democratic strategist who has worked for the Clinton White House, Congress and the Clinton, Gore and Obama presidential campaigns. He is a liberal host for The Hill’s Hill.TV video division. Follow him on Twitter @JamalSimmons.