Democrats are up in arms over Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s report, which did not find that the Trump campaign or its associates conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, but did not state any conclusion over whether or not Trump obstructed justice regarding the investigation. With Attorney General William Barr stating that Mueller simply provided information for others to reach their own conclusion—and Barr saying that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided that there was insufficient evidence to support an obstruction charge—Democratic leaders are itching to get their hands on Mueller’s report so they can take action of their own, if necessary.
While I understand the desire to know what Mueller knows, impeaching President Donald Trump over obstruction of justice at this point in time would not only be political suicide, it would be bad for the country.
First off, after reading the infamous James Comey memos that led to Mueller’s appointment and the obstruction probe, I thought cries of obstruction were quite overstated. When Trump allegedly asked for Comey to go easy on former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, it didn’t come off so much like Trump was trying to thwart an investigation, but put in a good word for a friend. When Trump later fired Comey, it was questionable at the time because it looked like Trump was trying to cover up wrongdoing by his campaign. Now that Mueller has come up empty on that front, it seems more likely that Trump really just didn’t want to be bothered with the distraction of the Russia investigation while he was trying to do his job.
Even if Trump did try to obstruct the investigation, it may have been to remove the political distraction; but there’s no reason to think he was covering up a crime, because there’s no underlying crime that Mueller charged anyone with as it relates to meddling in the election.
As we’ve seen in the past, like with President Bill Clinton, impeachments are political dumpster fires. It disrupts two branches of government and makes the political climate in the country even worse than it was going in. They cause harm to the country that is only worth it if there is evidence that a president really committed a terrible crime.
Remember, no one has ever been removed from office as a result of one, as they are political proceedings that require such a large majority in the Senate as to render a finding of guilt all but impossible in the current political climate. Now, if Mueller did uncover damning evidence that Trump was a Russian asset, sure that might be enough to get the GOP to turn on the president. Accusing Trump of obstructing justice when there was nothing to cover up in the first place? That would have zero chance of success, and would do more harm than good to Democrats.
Despite what a perusal of Twitter would have you believe, there are certainly independent voters who might be on the fence as the next presidential election season gets underway. Mueller’s finding of no conspiracy/coordination with Russia may have some feeling better about possibly voting for Trump in 2020, but Democrats could save some face if they just move forward now. Impeachment at this point in time would come off as a purely political move, because it would show that Democrats are willing to cause chaos when they know they can’t win, just because they think it would help them in 2020.
In reality, it would backfire, big league.
[Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.