The Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has begun a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump — providing plenty of political intrigue for pundits to untangle.
What are the impacts of impeachment proceedings on Utah’s members of Congress, especially Rep. Ben McAdams?
Pignanelli: “Nobody knows where this impeachment is going … something wild and unpredictable has been let loose … the entire outcome will depend on public opinion.” — Peggy Noonan
Massive political intrigue is the astronomical equivalent of a black hole, bending space and time from normal trajectories. The current impeachment controversy caused history to fold back upon itself.
In July 1974, the House Judiciary Committee adopted articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon. Among members voting “aye” was a freshman lawyer from Utah — Democrat Wayne Owens. Although the Watergate storm generated an electoral blue wave, Owens lost his Senate race that year. Some pundits attribute the defeat to this vote.
Ben McAdams — another centrist freshman lawyer Democrat from Utah — will soon face a similar decision. His comments have been judicious, requesting additional information before committing to impeachment-style investigations. McAdams accurately reflects the common sense judgment of Utahns. To prevent a repeat of history, he will need to distance himself from potential overreach — and displays of unfairness — by Congressional leadership.
For example, Joseph Maguire, acting director of national intelligence, testified before the House Intelligence Committee regarding the whistleblower complaint. The chairman and ranking member pushed the hearing into a farcical circus that Americans despise. Maguire, a 36-year Navy veteran, did not deserve hours of televised critique for his good faith attempts to deal with this unique issue, while protecting the whistleblower. Utah Congressman Chris Stewart appropriately and commendably defended this decent patriot.
The impeachment activities will morph into an even larger black hole, sucking time, energy and matter on Capitol Hill.
Webb: I got a haircut last Wednesday and asked my barber (Dillon Guymon at Trolley Square Barbers) if Trump should be impeached. He said no. Dillon talks to people all day and knows everything, so if the Democrats have lost the country’s barbers, they have a problem.
This whole affair is only beginning, of course, and no one knows how it will end. But I find even a lot of people who don’t like Trump don’t think the Ukrainian phone call rises to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” — worthy of overturning the 2016 presidential election and tossing Trump out of office. Where’s the damage? Where’s the victim?
Some elements of the July phone call were inappropriate and stupid, and Trump should be criticized and censured. But national security was not threatened and no constitutional crisis occurred, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to claim.
All of this becomes very awkward for McAdams. His party is charging toward an impeachment vote and he will be under fire no matter what he does. The Republican campaign committees are already using the impeachment furor to target him.
Most congressional Republicans have been silent or protective of Trump. Why has Utah Sen. Mitt Romney been more vocal, saying an investigation is warranted?
Pignanelli: Romney’s statements elicit many adjectives (i.e. thoughtful, needed and shrewd). He is reflecting angst by many within the GOP, but not expressed publicly. Romney is using his immense political capital to comfort Americans there is some parental supervision in this partisan dispute. Also, should impeachment actions topple the Trump Administration and cripple the Republican Party, Romney will be the unblemished statesman for conservatives. There is no limit what this could mean for Utah’s favorite son.
Webb: Romney has a visceral aversion to Trump and is emerging as the president’s chief critic among Senate Republicans. It will get him a lot of publicity and the approval of liberals and Trump-haters, but it won’t help him get legislation passed.
Trump is everything Romney is not — impulsive, crude, flamboyant, arrogant and bull-headed. He also won the presidency, and Romney did not. Romney is certainly an important voice of reason in the Senate, but at some point he has to look at the big picture and decide if he wants Elizabeth Warren as president and eight years of ultra-leftist federal judicial appointments. What’s the bigger danger to the country?
When all is said and done, will Trump be impeached by the House? Will he be convicted by the Senate and booted from office?
Pignanelli: There will be an impeachment vote. A Senate trial only occurs if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the votes to defeat the effort. If not, Trump will be forced to resign.
Webb: After all the apocalyptic rhetoric, if House Democrats don’t impeach Trump it will be terribly embarrassing for them. So I expect Pelosi will rally her troops, twist arms and do it. The Senate will not convict, and the whole impeachment mess will hurt Democrats in 2020. Voters will reject Warren’s socialist takeover of the country and in the next four years Trump will appoint another conservative Supreme Court justice, assuring a conservative court for decades to come.