For John, BLUF: Impeachment of President Trump could be a quagmire for the Democrats, done wrong. Nothing to see here; just move along.
From the OpEd pages of The Old Gray Lady, by US Repressentative Adam B. Schiff, 4 May 2018.
Representative Adam B. Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, is the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
In the first part of his essay Rep Schiff makes the point that Impeachment can include actions from before assuming office, if they reflect on possible subsequent conduct while in office. He cites the Impeachment (and subsequent Senate conviction) of federal judge Thomas Porteous Jr., of New Orleans.
Then he goes on to talk to the political side of the coin:
Yet, one of the most important lessons I learned during the Porteous case was that the legal standard for what constitutes a high crime or misdemeanor is less important than the practical and political standard that must be met in any impeachment case. And while that political standard cannot be easily or uniformly defined, I think in the present context it means the following: Was the president’s conduct so incompatible with the office he holds that Democratic and Republican members of Congress can make the case to their constituents that they were obligated to remove him?I believe Rep Schiff is spot on in his analysis of the political side of the coin. And he is right to warn off Democrats from running in November's General Election on an Impeachment plank. It may work in the Primary, but come November it may well repel those not enrolled in a party.
If they cannot, if impeachment is seen by a substantial part of the country as merely an effort to nullify an election by other means, there will be no impeachment, no matter how high the crime or serious the misdemeanor.
This is a very high bar, and it should be. Impeachment is an extraordinary remedy, not to be entertained lightly, and in the case of a president, would mean putting the country through a deeply wrenching process. It is instead a remedy that must be considered soberly, mindful of the fact that removing a president from office should be the recourse for only the most serious transgressions.
Should the facts warrant impeachment, that case will be made more difficult politically if part of the country feels that removing Mr. Trump is the result that some of their fellow Americans were wishing for all along.
In the larger scheme of things, Impeachments are rare and convictions by the Senate are not sure.
Regards — Cliff