Not anytime soon, anyway. The numbers just aren’t there.
Impeachment is about overturning the will of the people. It should never be easy. In the United States, impeachment has been designed to require a supermajority of legislative votes – and is reserved for what the U.S. Constitution calls “high crimes and misdemeanours.”
First, an Article of Impeachment needs to pass in the House of Representatives. And then it goes the Senate, where the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court is called in to preside over an actual prosecution, with witnesses and everything. A two-thirds vote is then required to remove a president from office – and that threshold was not reached in the Bill Clinton case in 1999.
Identifying a Trump “high crime and misdemeanour” is sadly pretty easy to do.
Some of his misdeeds, while very serious, have been settled – such as fraud at Trump University, intimidation of tenants, antitrust violations, discriminating against people of colour at Trump properties in New York, and so on.
But there are ongoing legal actions against him by multiple women alleging sexual assault. Other alleged crimes are almost as serious and haven’t yet been settled out of court. There’s alleged crimes by the Donald J. Trump Foundation, still being probed by New York’s attorney general. There’s Newsweek’s report that Trump violated the Cuba embargo, also a crime. There are allegations of bribes in Florida, made to prevent a Trump University investigation.
And, of course, he and his inner circle now stand accused of secret dealings with a hostile foreign power – Russia. That’s about as serious as it gets. Some have said that those misdeeds constitute treason against the United States.
All that may be true. But Trump’s Republican party dominates the legislative and executive branches. And, until they get some of their agenda implemented – killing Obamacare, abortion, equality statutes and even the most modest gun control measures – Republicans will be in no hurry to remove Trump.
That doesn’t mean Democrats and Trump’s many opponents need to wait. Take it from someone who has run Liberal war rooms for years, and who has worked with Democratic war room operatives, too: there are five things that can be done to drive Trump out of the Oval Office.
Target senior staff and family
Trump has a small, inexperienced inner circle that includes many members of his family. The burgeoning Russia scandal has already cost him a national security adviser and a campaign manager. His opponents need to continue to pick off those around Trump, with relentless waves of congressional inquiries and criminal probes. That will force the senior Trump advisers to lawyer up, spend untold thousands on legal fees and limit what they can say to each other. In the Watergate scandal, this is how Richard Nixon was taken down – by tormenting those around the president, before finally going after the president.
Get a chief prosecutor and staff
The Democrats, and those legions who want to remove Trump from power, need to quickly identify someone who will be Trump’s tormentor-in-chief: someone who is elected, telegenic, smart and aggressive, and who can get up in Trump’s face every single day with a new revelation or new allegation.
This legislative attack dog needs to be supported by a smart, well-resourced group of writers and researchers – a war room, in effect – who would also help investigative efforts by the likes of the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN.
This group would blanket social media – where, notoriously, Trump is too often focused – with rumours and innuendo to demoralize and (ultimately) destroy Team Trump.
Motivate and mobilize law enforcement
As everyone knows, Trump makes many, many mistakes. But this writer long ago opined that his biggest mistake was attacking the U.S. intelligence community – at one point, unbelievably, likening the CIA to the Nazis.
Trump is now paying dearly for that blunder: many of the most damaging leaks against him have apparently come from intelligence operatives seeking revenge.
Take advantage of that! Democrats need to defend the likes of the CIA – and motivate the likes of the FBI to investigate the new regime whenever and wherever possible. Under the U.S. Code of Laws, it’s a crime to lie to the FBI or federal officials. Ask Martha Stewart, Rod Blagojevich, Scooter Libby, Bernard Madoff and many others: once Trump and Co. start lying to the feds, they’re heading to the slammer.
Be the media’s best friend
In a target-rich scandal environment, the temptation of political people is always to run the show. They want to be the ones driving the story, they want to be the ones who get all the credit. In the early days of the Trump-Russia scandal, however, the people pushing this extraordinary story forward work for the Times, Post and CNN. They’re the ones breaking the stories, not the Democrats.
Everything the Democrats and the anti-Trump alliance do, therefore, should be aimed at supporting the important work of the ink-stained wretches. Among other things, it’s giving credit where credit’s due – and it’s good for democracy.
Get people power
Impeachments, investigations and inquiries notwithstanding, if a majority of Americans don’t care about Putingate – or are feeling in any way sympathetic about Trump, as they were about Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky schmozzle – then none of the above-noted war room tactics will matter.
There are courts and there’s the people’s court.
Until Trump has been found guilty in the latter, the former won’t matter. The anti-Trump inquisitors need to ensure that everything they do, and everything they say, enjoys popular support.
Most of all, however, get at it. Putingate makes Watergate look like a romp in the park.
If the anti-Trump forces do their job right, who knows?
Donald Trump might start welcoming impeachment.
Warren Kinsella is a Canadian journalist, political adviser and commentator.