The House voted today to go forward with impeachment proceedings against President Trump. This is, I guess, a news story, although it couldn’t possibly have been news to anyone. The Democrats have been talking about impeaching Trump since before he was inaugurated, and it was a foregone conclusion, when they took over the House last November, that he would be impeached. The brief pause in providing arms to Ukraine (which the Obama administration never did) and Trump’s entirely proper telephone conversation with President Zelensky are absurdly weak pretexts for the Democrats’ impeachment effort, and I doubt whether anyone takes them seriously.
Today’s vote sets out procedures for the ongoing inquiry, which will proceed in multiple House committees. Republicans rightly objected to the procedures as unfair, in fact “Soviet-style.” That is a fair characterization: among other things, Republicans can only call witnesses if they are approved by the ridiculous Adam Schiff. Schiff will also retain the power to release redacted transcripts of testimony at his discretion, as he has been doing. The only difference is that until now, they have been leaks.
The Democrats had hoped for a bipartisan impeachment inquiry, I think, but their case is so poor that they couldn’t get a single Republican to vote with them. Two Democrats, Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, voted against continuing the impeachment process. I have it on good authority that Peterson, the closest thing to a conservative in the Democratic caucus, has told Nancy Pelosi that Adam Schiff is killing their party (my paraphrase). Peterson will probably lose his seat in 2020; he certainly would have lost it if he had voted for impeachment.
The impeachment process will wend its way through the House over the coming months, but its result is foreordained. President Trump will be impeached on grounds so flimsy as to be laughable. The Senate will then respond, probably quite briefly. That result is foreordained, too.
Why are the Democrats doing this? Because they think that endlessly yammering about impeachment will smear President Trump more or less effectively, no matter how feeble their grounds are. At a minimum, they think that occupying newspaper headlines with the word “impeachment” will distract attention from the Trump administration’s impressive accomplishments, about which they have nothing to say. Thus they hope to increase their candidate’s chances of winning next year’s election.
Time will tell whether they are right.