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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/3/19

What About Impeachment?

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Here on the Left Coast, most voters I talk to are disgusted with Donald Trump and want him impeached. Nonetheless, our leader, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urges Dems to be cautious and to hold hearings rather than rush into an impeachment process. That's sound advice because a majority of Americans don't want Trump impeached.

The latest Washington Post / ABC News Poll (https://www.washingtonpost.com/page/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2019/04/26/National-Politics/Polling/question_21366.xml? ) indicates that only 39 percent of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling his job as President.

With regard to Special Counsel Mueller's report, most poll respondents felt the report was fair (51 percent) and most felt that "it did not clear Trump of wrongdoing" (53 percent). (47 percent felt that "Trump tried to interfere with the Russia investigation in a way that amounts to obstruction of justice;" versus 41 percent that did not feel this way.) Most tellingly, 58 percent believe that Trump "lied to the American public about the matters under investigation by Mueller."

To summarize, most American believe the Mueller report was fair and Trump has engaged in wrongdoing. 58 percent believe that Trump lied about this.

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Nonetheless, a strong majority (56 percent) of Washington Post / ABC News poll respondents do not feel that Congress should begin impeachment proceedings against Trump.

What explains this somewhat contradictory finding?

The Washington Post / ABC News poll indicates that opinions about impeachment are split by Party affiliation: 62 percent of Democrats are in favor of beginning impeachment proceedings versus only 10 percent of Republicans (87 percent oppose impeachment). Most telling, only 36 percent of Independents are in favor of beginning impeachment proceedings. (The Washington Post / ABC News poll doesn't provide much demographic information to help us interpret this polarization on impeachment; however, non-white voters are much more inclined towards impeachment (59 percent) than are white non-Hispanic voters (25 percent).)

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However, another Washington Post / ABC News poll item illustrates how unpopular Trump is. The survey asks: In 2020, if Trump is the Republican candidate would you vote for him? 55 percent of respondents said they would "definitely not vote for him." (Only 28 percent would definitely vote for Trump.) It's possible that many voters -- particularly Independents -- decided: "We're going to vote Trump out of office in 2020 so why go to all the effort to impeach him if he will be gone in 17 months."

Finally, the final Washington Post / ABC News poll question is: "Do you think the political system in this country mainly works to benefit (all people) or mainly works to benefit (those in power)?" Interestingly, 72 percent of respondents feel the political system works to benefit those in power. Once again, response divides by political affiliation, with Democrats and Independents overwhelmingly agreeing that the system is biased towards those in power. It's possible that some voters -- those who do not like Trump -- have lost confidence in the political process and do not think anything would be accomplished by impeaching Trump.

Whatever the reason, most Americans don't want the House to initiate impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. That means that House Dems are right to listen to Speaker Pelosi and pursue a five-part plan.

1.Democrats need to constantly remind Americans that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and is likely to do this again. This is key because question 11 of the Washington Post / ABC News poll indicates that many Americans aren't convinced of this. "Given what you've heard or read, do you think interference by Russia undermined the legitimacy of the 2016 presidential election, or did it not rise to that level?" 51 percent of respondents felt "It did not rise to that level."

On April 26th, the FBI issued a new warning about Russian interference in the 2020 election (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/26/us/politics/fbi-russian-election-interference.html ).

2.Democrats need to lead the effort to protect the integrity of the 2020 elections. On the first day of the new congress -- January 3rd -- Democrats introduced HR 1 ( https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1) which, among other subjects, addresses election integrity and security,

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3.Democrats need to pursue the investigations they have started. Four Democratically controlled House committees are pursuing information relevant to the Mueller Report. The primary committees are the Intelligence Committee, lead by Adam Schiff, and the Judiciary Committee, led by Jerry Nagler. Both want to see the unredacted Mueller report. Schiff is also interested in the question of whether Trump is is being financially compromised when he makes foreign-policy decisions.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform is interested in Trump-related financial documents to see if he committed fraud in recent financial dealings. (they are also looking into his handling of security clearances.) The House Ways and Means committee is studying Trump's tax returns to see if he committed fraud.

4.Democrats need to call out Trump on Obstruction of Justice. Just as he did during the conduct of the Mueller report, Trump is using various tactics to keep the truth from the American people. Now he and his minions are blocking release of the undredacted report and refusing to appear before House committees. Democrats need to call out the attempts to obstruct justice and initiate the appropriate court proceedings.

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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.
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