Erick Erickson: The Fantasy of Impeachment

After President Trump fired James Comey, the F.B.I. director, the media and political left ignited with talk of impeachment. “We are certainly moving down that path,” said Representative Ruben Gallego, Democrat of Arizona. “The Comey Firing May Be the Beginning of the End of the Trump Administration” shouted a headline in New York magazine.
Don’t get me wrong. I have long had concerns about President Trump. He can contradict himself within separate clauses of a single sentence, then lie about the contradiction. He lacks the depth of knowledge a president should have and seems far more concerned with what people on TV say about him than what is happening around him. Even if there is no evidence that the F.B.I. is investigating the president himself, it is reportedly looking at ties between advisers to his campaign and Russia.
But let’s be realistic. Though the firing looks bad, it was also reasonable.
Consider the case made by Rod Rosenstein, the highly respected deputy attorney general, who was recently confirmed by more than 90 members of the Senate. In a memo to the president, Mr. Rosenstein said Mr. Comey had usurped the attorney general’s authority last July by announcing his conclusion that the F.B.I.’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails should be closed without prosecution. “It is not the function of the director to make such an announcement,” Mr. Rosenstein wrote. “Compounding the error, the director ignored another longstanding principle: We do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation.” Mr. Rosenstein likewise documented concerns from attorneys general from both parties. “The way the director handled the conclusion of the email investigation was wrong,” he concluded. “As a result, the F.B.I. is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them.” Mr. Comey only made things worse for himself by giving wrong information to Congress about emails belonging to Huma Abedin, Mrs. Clinton’s aide. Mr. Comey’s testimony was under oath, and the F.B.I. had to retract its own director’s testimony. No one can deny this was a bad thing. Though they are criticizing his firing now, Democrats were calling for Mr. Comey’s head after he reopened the Clinton email investigation late in the campaign last year. If he was so bad then, is he really so good now? It also is telling that two of President Trump’s most vocal critics within the Republican Party, Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, both embraced Mr. Comey’s termination. Underlying liberals’ calls for impeachment is the belief that Mr. Comey’s firing will squelch the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russian campaign meddling. But there are good reasons to think that the inquiry won’t be affected. The F.B.I.’s interim leader, Andrew McCabe, vowed on Thursday that the investigation would continue apace. Likewise, the Senate will have to confirm Mr. Trump’s nominee to replace Mr. Comey, and Republicans seem determined to keep the bureau independent. More than half the Senate Republicans have already raised concerns about how Mr. Comey was fired. Many of them are privately worried that Mr. Trump could lead them to electoral disaster. They are not going to serve as yes men for a yes man at the F.B.I.
Last, along with the F.B.I.’s counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling, there is a Senate investigation. The chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, and its ranking member, Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, have criticized Mr. Trump’s handling of the Comey termination and are committed to the investigation. A number of other Republican Senators, including John McCain and Ben Sasse, have also raised questions about the firing.
Instead of engaging in conspiracy theories about President Trump’s Russian connections, liberals would be better served demanding that Congress exercise its powers of the purse and investigation to ensure honesty and integrity in the confirmation of a new F.B.I. director and in the operation of the agency.
Frankly, by firing Mr. Comey, President Trump did what President Barack Obama should have done. Hillary Clinton’s supporters have long wanted Mr. Comey out, and President Trump’s supporters will stand by their man.
In continuing to misread the political situation and reality itself, the left is setting itself up for failure and disappointment. The odds are that the president comes out of a Russian investigation unscathed. Even if Democrats take back Congress in 2018, they would probably fall short of the two-thirds vote in the Senate needed to convict him of impeachable offenses.
The author is the editor of the website The Resurgent and a talk-show host on radio station WSB.

Source : The New York Times


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