This may be one of the clearest signs of just how mixed up Washington is these days…some believe that President Trump may just want to be impeached. The president has thoroughly confused the logic in DC with his beyond normal presidency. Some Democrats wonder if he views the ultimate constitutional crisis as a main weapon in his re-election campaign.
Whether or not this is true, it may be shaping the strategies of Democratic leaders as they weigh the political risks of impeachment and their duty to defend principles of American governance. Some Democrats fear that Trump may be laying an impeachment trap that could consume the House majority, distract them from key issues like health care and alienate middle of the aisle voters.
But it’s also possible their leaders could be raising the idea that Trump wants to be impeached as a way to quiet discontent among some base activists that Washington Democrats are not doing more to constrain the President.
“The President is almost self-impeaching because he is, every day, demonstrating more obstruction of justice and disrespect for Congress’ legitimate role to subpoena,” Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday.
Adam Schiff, one of Pelosi’s top leaders and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is, like Pelosi, wary of the risks of impeachment. But he acknowledged Trump’s own actions might be propelling Washington toward a precipice.
“Part of our reluctance is we are already a bitterly divided country and an impeachment process will divide us further,” Schiff said Sunday on “This Week” on ABC News. “He certainly seems to be trying and maybe this is his perverse way of dividing us more … He thinks that’s to his political advantage, but it’s certainly not to the country’s advantage.”
At times Trump has seemed to be testing out arguments that he could use in his defense in an impeachment showdown.
“It’s hard to impeach somebody who hasn’t done anything wrong and who’s created the greatest economy in the history of our country,” Trump told Reuters in an interview in December.
“I’m not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened,” he said.
Much Democratic reticence about impeachment is shaped by a certain reading of the history of the Bill Clinton era.
In midterm elections in 1998 that took place after Republicans had initiated the impeachment process, Democrats actually picked up House seats in a reverse of historical trends.