by Caleb Talley
It’s impeachment season. Democratic operatives’ mouths are watering, as talks to taking over the House and booting President Trump are heating up. Likewise, Republicans are using those talking points to encourage conservative voters to hunker down this fall.
And all because of a porn star. Who’d have guessed it?
As everyone and their mom already knows, the home, office and hotel room of Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen were raided by the FBI earlier this week, in a search for records of payments to women who have claimed they had affairs with the president.
Trump responded by claiming that the raid (which was completely legal) was an attack on America, part of a witch hunt led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to run him out of the White House. But as everyone back here on planet earth knows, the raid was not part of Mueller’s investigation.
The longtime Republican and former FBI director handed over information he found during his investigation to the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York – as he’s required to do by law. We don’t know for certain what the information was, but it prompted the U.S. attorney to obtain a search warrant from an unbiased Trump-appointed magistrate who also, obviously, recognized wrongdoing. Otherwise he wouldn’t have issued the search warrant (that’s kind of how that works).
And, boy, is Trump sweating – not exactly what an innocent person does when the authorities come sniffing. In response to the FBI raid and search for salacious records, Trump has, again, floated the idea of firing deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein in order to put pressure on the special counsel and Mueller’s entire investigation.
He obviously wants to fire them both, having drawn red line for Mueller when it comes to his finances. That, to me, sends a signal: check his finances. It’s like telling the police, while they’re searching your car for drugs, ‘do what you want, but just don’t look in the trunk.’ First, that’s just plain stupid. Second, you don’t exactly get to make that call.
If Trump were to initiate his own Saturday Night Massacre – sending home Rosenstein, Mueller, Sessions and anyone else who won’t ignore the law to protect him – his problems would only get much, much worse. Such a move would almost guarantee a GOP mauling in November, with Democrats sure to take the House and intensify talks of impeachment.
Republican leaders already know this, and they’ve begun to signal the possibility of a Democratic takeover. (Pendulum, anyone?) They recognize what the consequences of Trump’s actions would be, even if he doesn’t. And that’s why GOP leaders are urging the president to stand pat, while also begging voters not to jump ship.
They’re message to voters? Keep us in power or Trump will be impeached. And, in reality, that might not even be all that helpful to their cause. And with threats of war with Russia, Syria and whoever else, a President Mike Pence is sounding a lot better every day. Even if his best friend is a bunny.
Republicans should be worried, even if the president doesn’t fire the whole justice department. But let’s be real, someone will likely be gone by the time this reaches you on Mark Zuckerberg’s human monitoring network (AKA Facebook). And that’s because voters don’t want to hear about how their candidates are tied at the hip to Trump. They want to know what their political leaders are going to do to make their lives better.
Republican candidates in 2018 will do themselves no favors by running on a platform of protecting and apologizing for the president. That didn’t work for Cowboy Roy down in deep red Alabama. That didn’t work for Slick Rick in a very pro-Trump district of Pennsylvania. This go-round, Republicans need to be preaching lower taxes, an improved economy, national security. And then they need to cross their fingers and pray to the Lord that they don’t end up the subject of a Trump tweet.
Across the aisle, there’s sure to be some Democratic candidates running on a platform of impeaching the president, especially in the primaries. And that’s a very bad idea. Not only does it run the risk of emboldening voters who casted their ballots for Trump in 2016, but it’s also downright dangerous.
If the impeachment of a sitting president is the key promise of a party seeking power, we’re in deep trouble. Those who want Trump gone have argued that he has undermined our democracy. By using impeachment as a tool of politics, they will have undermined our democracy even further.
We’ve had two presidential impeachments in our country’s entire history, and neither ended in conviction. Sure, Trump is probably un-fit to be president; he’s extremely unstable, and we’re just now beginning to realize the amount of dirt others have to influence him with. But voters want checks and balances, not automatic impeachment. And normalizing impeachment as a partisan method for removing opposition would be a disaster for democracy, and would open the door for future impeachments with the slightest impulse.
It may feel like impeachment season, regardless of which side of the aisle you sit. But if we’re ever going to return to some sense of normalcy in this country, it’s best we all just sit back and let the justice department do its job.
Republicans and Democrats need to run their races on the issues. Not Trump. Not impeachment. Just the issues, those that are most important to the communities they wish to serve. And Trump can do his party a favor now and in November by letting this whole thing run its course.
In Cash & Candor, Arkansas Money & Politics / AY Magazine Editor Caleb Talley aims to shoot it straight when it comes to business and politics in and around the Natural State. Talley comes to AMP by way of the Arkansas Delta, where he called balls and strikes at the Forrest City Times-Herald. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com. Read more Cash & Candor here.