Quick: Tell me why Democrats are impeaching President Donald Trump.
Don’t feel bad if you don’t know. The Democrats who are going to vote for it don’t know either. First, it was quid pro quo. Then it was bribery. Now it’s — wait, what did the focus group say this time?
Impeachment is supposed to be a momentous event. In more than 200 years, the House has impeached only two presidents. The process should fill the country with high drama. The most powerful man in the world could be on the cusp of facing the ultimate humiliation.
The stakes couldn’t be higher, yet most people aren’t paying attention. Despite airing on six networks, the Democrat impeachment hearings drew just 12 million viewers combined. In a country of about 330 million people, that’s not even 4 percent.
Many factors contributed to this disinterest. Democrats, such as Rep. Al Green of Texas, diluted the uniqueness of impeachment by demanding it since mid-2017. Green even wants to impeach Trump again if the Senate acquits him. The media spent two years crying wolf on the Trump/Russia collusion narrative. Go figure the country is skeptical of its breathless hyping of impeachment.
The Trump administration also did something smart when the Ukraine story broke. It released a transcript of the disputed call and the whistleblower complaint. Trying to get to the bottom of a cover-up is intriguing. Finding out that Trump sounds like Trump when he talks with the Ukrainian president isn’t.
The biggest reason impeachment is a dud, however, is that Democrats can’t prove their case. Democrats need to show that Trump had corrupt intent when he pressured Ukraine to investigate allegations against Joe Biden. Remember: Democrats can’t argue that conditioning aid on investigating corruption is wrong. Joe Biden once bragged about going to Ukraine and doing exactly that.
They have to show Trump knew the Bidens’ involvement in Ukraine wasn’t wrong, but that Trump wanted a public investigation anyway. It’s not even enough to show the call wasn’t “perfect.” It’s possible that Rudy Giuliani was feeding Trump inaccurate information about what happened in Ukraine. Acting on bad info is a mistake, not an abuse of power.
Only one of their impeachment witnesses, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, talked to Trump about why he withheld the military aid. Sondland testified that he didn’t know why Trump did it. When he asked Trump, the president told him that he wasn’t seeking a quid pro quo.
Those details are tedious, not salacious.
Polling shows this to be a losing issue. Majorities in swing states, such as Wisconsin, oppose impeachment. In Nevada, two recent polls have shown voters in the 3rd Congressional District oppose removing Trump. Democrat Rep. Susie Lee represents CD3 and supported the impeachment inquiry. Now, she’s noncommittal. Lee’s decision will be easier if she thinks there won’t be a strong candidate to oppose her. Republicans should be begging someone such as Assemblywoman Melissa Hardy to get into the race.
This is the bottom line on pursuing impeachment: If it stays a political snoozer, it remains a political loser.