Talking to Republicans About Impeachment

The holidays are coming.  And with them,  more opportunities to talk to those recalcitrant Trump supporters in your family.  Such as Aunt Bertha who believes God sent Donald on a mission.  And Uncle Bert who wants Trump to blow up Washington. Here are ten tips on how to talk to them about the impeachment process.  Ten responses to familiar Republican (false) arguments.

Contention 1: “Democrats are trying to overthrow the 2016 election.”  This a good place to start the conversation because there is an element of truth in this Republican argument.  Response: Yes, impeachment is about removing the President from office and replacing him with the Vice President.  Democrats are using this process because they believe Donald Trump has committed grave offenses that threaten our Democracy.  (Helpful hint: Don’t mention that Vice President Mike Pence could also be a candidate for impeachment because of his involvement in the Ukraine scandal.)

Contention 2: “Democrats are making a false charge.  Trump’s call to Ukraine was perfect.”  Helpful hint: take a deep breath.  Response: have you read the White House memo on the July 25th call?  (It’s not a transcript.) Trump discusses U.S. aid to Ukraine and then says “I would like you to do us a favor” and mentions an investigation of Hunter and Joe Biden. Many constitutional lawyers have stated that Trump’s action is bribery. That’s why there is an impeachment inquiry.

Contention 3: “The Whistleblower was out to get Trump.”  Time for another deep breath.  Response: everything that was mentioned in the Whistleblower report has been confirmed by the White House memo on the July 25th call and witnesses to the event.  Trump has admitted the basic facts so the Whistleblower is no longer relevant to the investigation.

Contention 4: “All the evidence is second hand.”  Response: While the original Whistleblower report was indeed second hand, this information has been confirmed by the White House memo on the July 25th call and witnesses to the event.  For this reason, the critical evidence is first hand; it’s been provided by Donald Trump or others who listened to the phone call.

Contention 5: “What about the Bidens?  Shouldn’t they be investigated?”  Response: Democrats have no objection to an investigation of the Ukraine activities of Hunter and Joe Biden.  However, this investigation has nothing directly to do with the impeachment inquiry; it is a separate matter.  [Pause for emphasis.]  Donald Trump controls the Department of Justice and and the FBI and they have yet to initiate an investigation into the activities of Hunter and Joe Biden.  [While this was being written, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham — chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee — launched a problem into the Bidens (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/graham-launches-probe-into-bidens-burisma-and-ukraine/2019/11/21/5a5675b4-0ca5-11ea-97ac-a7ccc8dd1ebc_story.html ). ]

Contention 6: “There was not a crime because no damage was done; Ukraine got the money.” Take another deep breath.  Response:” After the July 25th phone call, military aid to Ukraine was put on hold by Trump.  The aid was not released until September 11th, after the whistleblower report and after the House of Representatives launched related investigations.  Because of this sequence, many characterize what happened as a failed bribery attempt.  Nonetheless, a bribery attempt that fails is still a crime.

Contention 7: “The Impeachment process is flawed.”  Response: The Impeachment process is similar to that used in previous impeachment inquiries — for example, the Clinton impeachment — except for the fact there is no special counsel involved.  This process follows the rules set down by the House of Representatives and those rules include the involvement of Democrats and Republicans at each phase.

In addition, it would help the process if Donald Trump did not forbid the testimony of relevant witnesses.  (Of course, it would also help if Trump testified before the impeachment panel.)

Contention 8: “Trump should be able to confront his accusers.”  Take a deep breath.  Response: There are two phases of the impeachment process; the inquiry — held in the House of Representatives — and the trial — held in the Senate.  Trump will be able to confront his accusers during the Senate trial.  In addition, House Speaker Pelosi has offered Trump a chance to give testimony during the inquiry and offered his counsel an opportunity to present evidence during the House process.

Contention 9: “Whatever… it’s not an impeachable offense.”  Take two deep breaths.  Response: Whether or not Trump’s acts — bribery, obstruction of justice, and abuse of power — are impeachable offenses needs to be decided after the process has played out — by a vote in the Senate.  It’s serious enough that it should not be dismissed on a purely partisan basis.

Contention 10: “I don’t care what Trump did.  As long as the economy works for me and my family, I’m supporting Trump.”  Take many deep breaths.  Response: “I will pray for your moral compass to be restored.”