It’s risky, but impeachment definitely has to be on the table. If you have been watching television lately, you have probably seen a video by Tom Steyer making a case for impeachment.
However, we have to be cautious. The very reason why Trump should be removed from office is the same reason why no attempt should be made. As we have previously stated, trying to assess him by his “beliefs” or positions on issues is irrelevant, because he is a psychologically damaged individual and the nature of his illness(es) is what drives his actions. The word “unhinged” has frequently been used, and with the exception of Richard Nixon in his final days, we have never had a situation quite like this.
Trump is far too erratic to be a legitimate leader of our country. But because he is unhinged, we are taking a trip into the unknown if a serious attempt is made to remove him from office. Legally, he has his finger on the button; he can be the one to launch American nuclear missiles. Practically, we are not sure whether there are military or other security personnel in the government who have taken steps to prevent Trump from acting unilaterally, even if he thinks that he can. Just think about what you would do if you were in the government and you had an opportunity to “disarm” Trump. Would you take steps of dubious constitutionality to save the country or the world? Not an easy question to answer.
Maggie Haberman of the New York Times stated this morning on CNN’s New Day that Trump’s disconnect has been markedly accelerated in recent days and weeks. His retweeting this morning of far-right, Anti-Muslim videos seems to be more gratuitously nasty and distorted than anything he has done to date.
Republicans are not going to take the lead on impeachment. They should, because in a sense, they own him. To paraphrase Colin Powell about the Pottery Barn policy, “if you break it you own it.” But most Republicans are too partisan to act boldly, and perhaps more importantly, they are often poor readers of reality; e.g. when a tax bill would take way health coverage from thirteen million or more Americans, they don’t seem to see the pain. People who can’t see pain are not really equipped to assess the damage done by Trump.
The downside to Democrats taking the lead on impeachment is that it would appear to be partisan. In part, it would be. But is it possible for something partisan to also be good policy? The answer is clearly yes, witness virtually everything that Democrats were able to do in the New Deal and the Great Society. More recently, the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by Democrats.
On the partisan scale, it would be important for Democrats to get ahead of the curve and make it even more clear that they have had little or nothing to do with the damage that Trump has done, and likely will continue to do to the country. If Democrats do not act, there will be a certain hollowness to their future pleas that they did everything that they could to spare the nation from the wrath of Trump.
But more important than any political benefits to Democrats, the issue of Trump being unhinged begs for our attention. As Maggie Haberman said, it is only getting worse.
If a genuine effort was made to impeach Donald Trump, there are at least two areas of risk. The first can be summed up in two words: Mike Pence. The second is the question of what Trump would do while the process is taking place.
We need to say things publicly that might best be said behind Trump’s back. But that is not an option.
My suggestion would be for the Democrats to take the lead on a move for impeachment, but to recognize that they might have to back off if the Trump situation gets too volatile. Theoretically, if Trump’s behavior becomes even more outrageous, it might prompt discussion between Pence and members of the Cabinet on invoking the 25th Amendment to temporarily remove Trump from office. Finally, there is the wording in Section 4 of the 25th Amendment which allows Congress to take quick action for temporary removal.
This is all tricky. We need to say things publicly that might best be said behind Trump’s back. But that is not an option. We may need to follow the old adage, “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.” Of course, like Trump, the adage needs to include women.
Postscript: Interview with Psychiatrist Lance Dodes re. mental status of Donald Trump