“I’m not for impeachment…I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an interview with The Washington Post. Talk about President Donald Trump has never ceased to make headlines and his presidency has been the center of a lot of attention worldwide. News of possible impeachment has been brought up time and time again but Pelosi has put them down for months. In her interview, she continues to emphasize how impeachment is an unrealistic option for the Unites States (U.S.) and stirred the public with thoughts on the future election.
At first glance, one would think that Pelosi is in favor of President Trump. However, during the interview, she has also made it very clear that she is definitely not one of President Trump’s biggest fans. Despite this, she continues to stand by her firm statement that impeaching the president would have more negative consequences than positive ones. She believes that the impeachment of President Trump would further divide the country, and unless there is something that Trump does that is “so overwhelmingly bipartisan,” impeachment would do more harm to the country. Whether this is true, only time can tell; but it only seems reasonable to take heed of the words of someone who has gone through the process of impeaching a president once.
What Impeachment Means
The U.S. Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power to impeach an individual. This does not necessarily lead to the removal of that individual from office but is only a legal statement of charges. At the federal level, it is a two-step process, and the conviction of an individual requires the concurrences of two-thirds of the members present. Impeachable offenses include “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The Congress regards impeachment as a final measure to be used only in extreme cases. Therefore, the case on whether President Trump has done anything considered unconstitutional has yet to be built.
The U.S. has a long history of attempts to take down a president. Former presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton are three memorable cases where the process of impeachment had to take place. Only in the case of Nixon did it result the departure from office. These situations are the basis of Pelosi’s opposition in the case of President Trump. Clinton’s impeachment of 1998 backfired on the Republicans where it resulted in a loss of seats and the resignation of Speaker Newt Gingrich. Pelosi saw that it takes a great majority to impeach a president or it will not follow through. Unless the Republican Party is convinced that President Trump should be impeached, there is no purpose in pursuing this path.
What Are the Odds?
Currently, considering the amount of weight Pelosi’s words hold, the chances of impeaching President Trump seem very slim. As history has shown, it is true that impeachment will lead to a divide in the country and there is no harm in being extra careful when deciding on such large scale processes. The effects that could be brought upon the country will be massive and, knowing this, is most likely the reason why Pelosi said that President Trump is simply not worth the consequences should the process go wrong. She had voted against Clinton’s impeachment but the attempt took place anyways, resulting in huge negative effects. Her experience, in this sense, builds credibility in her words when she takes the same stance with President Trump.
The main argument against President Trump’s impeachment is that there is, technically, not a single legal entity that says he has committed felonies that go against the American constitution. Although a thorough investigation has continuously been undertaken, there has not been solid evidence that would be able to convince the Republican side that President Trump should be impeached. Pelosi’s position is that, unless there is substantial evidence showing that President Trump has gone against the constitution, it would be wiser to wait until the 2020 elections to replace him. Without the Republicans acknowledging the “evidence” against President Trump that has been accumulated thus far, she believes that there is no point in impeachment.
What Happened to Public Sentiment?
Pelosi’s point may be understandable if it were only people of political power wanting to impeach President Trump. However, there has also been a lot of public opinion on the impeachment of the president. Considering the fact that the U.S. is a democratic country there is a need for the public’s voice to be heard. According to the Cable News Network (CNN)’s national exit polls, around 40 percent of 2018 voters said they were for President Trump’s impeachment. Although this statistic does not represent the majority, it is still higher than the most of the presidents in the past, including Clinton. Instead of doing what is politically convenient and shutting down all talks of impeachment, it may be more efficient to work on solidifying a case against President Trump as soon as possible.
Although Pelosi does pose a rather convincing argument and her political instinct may be correct, there are still people who are firm on impeaching President Trump. People still have a collective thought that one should not have to wait until the worst happens to impeach the president. Not everyone has the patience to put up with every controversial remark President Trump utters until that point. As it was with the case of the former president Park Geun-hye in South Korea, perhaps listening to public opinion will do more to unite the nation as opposed to split the government. Unlike President Trump, Park had solid evidence against her but the attention that the event got worldwide does not differ much from the negative attention President Trump is currently getting.
The current status is that most congressional democrats are not pushing for impeachment and, until there is substantial evidence that is able to prove President Trump’s negative effect on society, Pelosi’s words seem to hold some weight. Meanwhile, talk on the 2020 election is being brought up simultaneously and Pelosi’s hope is most likely to present a candidate who would be able to be able to stop President Trump’s re-election. There is a possibility that Pelosi made a rather premature statement concerning impeachment. Although a firm stance is respectable, it is always a good idea to keep the option open. However, if one were to look at the bigger picture, taking matters slowly would harvest better results in the long run.