In re Impeachment


Recently, Nancy Pelosi was asked this (implied) question:

There have been increasing calls, including from some of your members, for impeachment of the president.

And she gave this answer:

I’m not for impeachment. This is news. I’m going to give you some news right now because I haven’t said this to any press person before. But since you asked, and I’ve been thinking about this: Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.

The interviewer then chose to move on to other topics.

Problematic Reasoning

Regrettably, Speaker Pelosi’s language was imprecise and her stated reasons were ill considered. (Hear me: I speak of her “stated reasons,” not what she might have been thinking, or what she might have articulated poorly.)

One. Contrary to the apparent implications of her language, there are already many “compelling and overwhelming” bases for articles of impeachment.

Two. Mere “divisiveness,” in and of itself, is not a sufficient reason to avoid doing that which is constitutionally compelled, in the present circumstances.

Three. “And he’s just not worth it” doesn’t make much sense, in the context in which she uses the phrase.

But is Her Overall Point Nevertheless Sound?

Yes, she probably is correct.

As matters now stand, impeachment based on the “compelling and overwhelming” things we already know about would result in a vote not to covict in the Senate. The effect might be to drive away some traditional Republican voters who might otherwise vote Democratic in 2020.

That said, one could certainly make an argument that constitutional duty should trump, so to speak, mere political calculation.

But the big point is that there is no need to resolve that difficult question right now. Don’t tie yourself in knots over hypothetical issues. Wait till all the facts are in. See if there isn’t something there that will make most of the Republican senators want to vote for impeachment. Or, at least something that will severely harm them when they try to defend it and vote to keep Trump in office.

If there’s something that will make them want to vote for impeachment, then well and good. Problem solved.

If there’s something in the facts that just puts them in a terrible political bind, that’s also fine. Just grab those Republican senators down where the hairs are short. Squeeze them hard. And keep on squeezing.

In short, wait for all the information to come in before making whatever difficult choice you have to make between constitutional duty and political expediency.

Because it may well turn out that constitutional duty and political expediency will both point in the same direction.

And wouldn’t that be nice?


Today’s readers come from six countries, the largest number being from Canada. Hey, guys! Try not to laugh at us too much, OK?