Democrats beware: Trump has his faults, but they’re not impeachment-level crimes – Washington Examiner

Right now, Robert Mueller’s report gives Democrats a clear political advantage over President Trump. The report lays out, in ample detail, the chaos, pettiness, self-centeredness, and borderline corruption with which Trump has imbued the Oval Office. Trump’s poll numbers, already low, have taken yet another hit since the report’s release, tying his prior presidential nadir.

Meanwhile, Democrats determined to impeach Trump show political ineptitude, misapply constitutional principles, and abdicate their legislative responsibilities.

If Democrats keep citing the report in speeches and press statements, when and where relevant but without overdoing it, they will continue to reap political rewards against Trump without any downside risk to themselves. But if they try to drag the country through an impeachment process based on allegations that at worst put Trump in a legal gray area, but which most Americans seem to believe amount to iniquity rather than criminality, Democrats almost certainly will feel the stinging whip of a nasty political backlash.

As for the substance of impeachment, the Mueller report provides too little fodder for a serious attempt to charge the president with “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Obviously there was not enough evidence to justify a charge of illegal conspiracy with Russian entities. The obstruction of justice question is more nuanced. Without belaboring a point-by-point analysis of the instances of possible obstruction, suffice it to say that no single allegation carries enough evidentiary weight to sustain a clear conclusion that illegal obstruction occurred.

The most the president’s critics can say is that, taken all together, Trump’s multitudinous rantings and directives toward the end of impeding investigators amounted to a “pattern or practice” that carries a collective weight of guilt that no individual charge can bear.

Granted, this is not a negligible concern. Plenty of RICO convictions have been secured via demonstration that a pattern or practice of behavior evinced criminal intent. In an ordinary trial before an ordinary jury, it’s probably fair to say the “pattern or practice” charge of obstruction against Trump might have almost a 50-50 chance of success.

But impeaching a president isn’t ordinary. A House impeachment and Senate trial would badly hobble civic life — we learned that 20 years ago. The nation’s founders surely did not intend to so destabilize the civic order in cases where guilt is a matter of gray-area interpretation rather than plainly obvious malfeasance.

Impeachment would be both politically and constitutionally suspect. It also would be an abdication of duty. As mentioned above, an impeachment inquiry becomes an all-encompassing endeavor. While ongoing, it tends to push into the background, almost to the point of oblivion, all other legislative work. It certainly sucks oxygen from the rest of Congress’ other executive-administrative oversight functions.

Such distractions from ordinary, constitutionally assigned legislative work would be necessary to rein in a rogue president clearly trampling the law or public order. Otherwise, though, impeachment as a game of political “gotcha” is an impediment to Congress’ intended purpose, and to public service rightly understood.

In sum, the Mueller report gives Democrats good reason to verbally bash Trump. Bash, but not to impeach him.

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