The effort to impeach President Trump is a waste of time. On the other hand, it may be one of the best things to happen to Trump since he has been in office. While it may make certain members of the House of Representatives happy, this is politics at its worst.
Any majority in the House of Representatives can move to impeach public officials. Impeachment is simply a formal accusation that a violation has occurred. In a way, it is like a political grand jury indictment. Once a majority votes to impeach, there is a trial in the U.S. Senate. If the president is the person being impeached, the chief justice of the Supreme Court presides over the hearing. The proceedings solely determine if a person is fit for office. In our current system, two-thirds of U.S. senators would have to vote to remove the president from office. In a nutshell, this isn’t going to happen.
In the case of President Trump, there are 53 U.S. senators who are members of the Republican Party. In order to prevail with an impeachment, more than 20 Republicans would have to vote against the president. There are two independent senators that skew the numbers slightly. If we look at the states most of these Republican senators are from, it is clear that President Trump is secure from any actual removal process.
The question then goes back to, if this is a hopeless cause, why are certain members of the House of Representatives so rabidly advocating impeachment? The easy answer is that this is radical or zealous partisanship. On Guam, while we have Democrats and Republicans, we don’t really have zealous partisans in office. To be frank, I am a conservative Republican and I rarely get to talk to other Republicans who think and talk like I do. Most of the Republicans on Guam are centrists or moderates. Most of the Democrats here are from the Twilight Zone. I have no idea what their basis for reality is most of the time. And I spend a lot of time trying to figure this out.
If we look back to our last impeachment episode, President Clinton was impeached and acquitted in 1999 for a series of events related to Monica Lewinsky. By the way, she recently gave a great TED talk on this topic. The House vote to impeach was almost strictly along partisan lines. The votes in the Senate to acquit were likewise very partisan.
There is a part of the Clinton impeachment that few people talk about. Following his political trial in the Senate, President Clinton was cited for contempt of a federal court in April 1999 and fined $90,000. The judge determined he was not truthful in a deposition regarding his relationship with Lewinsky. This was sent to the Arkansas Bar Association and his right to practice law was suspended.
In the end, I think President Trump will benefit from all the free publicity in this nonsense impeachment. Twitter works.
Ron McNinch teaches at the University of Guam School of Business and Public Administration and received the Guam Legislature's Distinguished Professor of Guam award.