The Factors in Impeachment

At Brookings William Galston analyses what he says have been the three major factor in recent impeachments—presidential job approval, public support for impeaching and removing the president, and bipartisan support in Congress—in the context of the present situation:

Persuading the public to support impeaching and removing a president is a two-step process. The public must be convinced that the charges are true—and that they are weighty enough to justify overturning the results of a presidential election. Mr. Nixon’s accusers met both these tests, and he was forced to resign. By contrast, Mr. Clinton’s accusers met the first test but not the second. As the Senate trial began, 79% of Americans thought the president had committed perjury and 53% that he had obstructed justice, but only 4 in 10 believed that either charge warranted Clinton’s removal from office. The Senate vote fell far short on both counts of the indictment, and their target served out the rest of his term as a popular chief executive.

As the impeachment effort against President Trump gets underway, the American people are divided on both these tests, and his accusers must meet a weighty burden of proof. It remains to be seen whether the Democrats’ announced determination to proceed swiftly to impeachment will give the people enough time to assimilate new information and perhaps change their minds.

The article does shed some light on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s interest in moving the inquiry as quickly as possible to its conclusion. She may be trying to save her own job.

Read the whole thing.

17 comments… add one
  • PD Shaw Link

    The interesting thread running through the UK podcast, Talking Politics, in last week’s special on impeachment, was the view that the Ukraine phone conversation exemplified American hypocrisy and paranoia over foreign influence in its elections. The paranoia was traced back to the circumstances of the founding and the hypocrisy was the continual influence the U.S. has sought over foreign elections. (To be clear, the bulk of the show was not that interesting or that condemnatory, but if one were to pull lines and angles that don’t get expressed in American media it was American paranoia and hypocrisy) And the belief appeared to be that Biden’s campaign was unlikely to succeed at this point because of that thread.

  • Andy Link


    We are total hypocrites. We have a lot of supposedly well-informed people who think that Russian interference in our election is “an act of war” yet seem ignorant to the fact that the US government has an agency with the public mission to interfere in elections abroad.

    Russian activity in 2016 was a direct consequence of at least the perception that the US had interfered in Russian domestic politics in 2011 and it’s one of the reason’s the Clintons, in particular, are hated by many Russians, not just Putin and the nationalists.

  • jan Link

    This week Gordon Sondland, Ambassador to Ukraine, is scheduled to testify, in secret of course. He has already said the president told him there was no quid pro quo, Zelensky has said the same thing twice, in the released transcript there was no mention of withholding aid, but I doubt any of this will matter. Instead, the president’s veracity will be challenged, as well as the fact that Sondland is not a mind reader, and his testimony is based on the president’s word, which has been discredited and jeered for the last three years.

    After all, the model for these partisan, secret hearings has been set:
    put out lots of subpoenas; grill people in long, secretly held hearings; withhold transcripts from these meetings; then release snippets that conveniently can be interpreted as wrongdoing. Volker’s hearing followed such a game plan, and so will Sondland’s.

    What is maddening, however, about both the Russian and now the Ukrainian inquisitions, is the double standard exercised. Adam Schiff, who has become the face of these democrat-run investigations, has been caught in multiple lies. First he claimed to have personally seen incriminating Russian collusion evidence involving Trump, which proved to be a complete falsehood. With the latest Ukraine travesty, he publicly twisted the content of the Ukrainian phone call, and lied about earlier meetings with the “whistleblower.” Apparently, though, Schiff’s dishonesty is immune to repudiation by his democrat peers, and is dismissed by the MSM who would rather aim their arsenal of criticism at a republican president. Other liars escaping accountability have been Comey, McCabe, Mifsud, to name only a few, in a long string of those associated with various acts of government misconduct.

  • TarsTarkas Link

    Orange Man Bad. Worse than Mr. H, ‘cuz we say so, and proof be damned, we don’t need no stinkin’ proof, he’s evil! Must get rid of him at all costs, even if every law must be broken to do so. Only when Mr. T is gone can we, the righteous and noble protectors of the People and the Constitution, can go back to ‘normal’ behavior.

    Tell me this: If these ‘righteous and noble people’ succeed in deposing the POTUS using unconstitutional bare-knuckle methods that they are (and if this particular gambit fails they will undoubtedly move onto something even more raw and brazen), why would they go back to normal behavior? A lesson will have been learned, and it will be applied it with all vigor. Plouffe’s tweet about Trump is burned in my brain:

    It is not enough to simply beat Trump. He must be destroyed thoroughly. His kind must not rise again.

    — David Plouffe (@davidplouffe) June 13, 2016

    These are the people trying to get Trump. Do you think if they do get him they will hesitate for instant to destroy anybody that ever again gets in their way? Including their own?

    This rant of mine reminds of another good quote, this one from A Man for All Seasons (BTW that term means exactly the opposite of its original meaning, a weathervane of a politician, not someone with unchanging morals. Which the real More was not):

    And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned around on you–where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast–man’s laws, not God’s–and if you cut them down…d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.”

  • steve Link

    “These are the people trying to get Trump”

    4 years of 8 Benghazi investigations, finding nothing (remember that all of the investigations were looking for a political scandal). 3 years of the IRS investigations, and you didnt even charge Lois Lerner, let alone find something on Obama et al. McConnell and his number on priority. So, when you say stuff like the above, I hope you realize it comes off as whining, and actually kind of pussy-like whining. You really thought democrats would ignore egregious behaviors by Trump?

    Dont particularly care if someone thinks Trump is evil. I agree that we are hypocrites about interfering on other country’s elections. one of that justifies our POTUS asking other countries to help with his election.

    “multiple lies.”

    A Trump supporter suddenly cares about lies? That is so funny.


  • jan Link

    In some partisan’s world the Benghazi tragedy and the IRS scandal were fairly tried and legitimately adjudicated.

    Details like: dem stonewalling requested documentation/emails; initiating NDAs being pushed; hard drives disappearing or destroyed; expediting the processing of non-profit applications for liberal organizations, versus slow-walking ones from conservative organizations (sometimes taking years and law suits to settle, like True the Vote), are only a few of many Obama Administration irregularities and vices that were often dismissed, covered-up or underreported.

    A new book shortly will be released by the Fusion GPS guy, Glenn Simpson, allegedly saying the Trump investigations commenced in 2015, implicating the Obama Administration of purposefully inserting Trump into the Russian meddling issues (initially ignored by Obama) that led into the elongated & eventually exonerated Mueller Investigation, starting in 2017. However, if the book’s content gets too close to Obama it will be subject to bad reviews, no media buzz, and quickly thrown in the circular file of anonymity. That’s how you keep that ”no scandal” label alive and repeated by people like Steve.

  • steve Link

    In case you didnt notice, Trump has been in charge of the DOJ fro almost 3 years. With those almost 3 years after looking at the IRS investigation, they brought zero charges. Not only could they not find any linkage to the Obama administration, they could even find that Lerner did anything wrong. The IG report, released while Trump was in office, showed that liberal groups were also affected, but since more conservative groups were applying they were more affected. The Trump administration provided financial settlements for the conservative groups involved. Not for the liberal groups.

    Again, they did the Benghazi investigations 8 times. They got the info they requested, other than stuff that never really existed. No scandal. The Trump DOJ has had lots of time to look at this. Why would they stonewall records? Ahhhh, I see. Even Trump is in on the conspiracy against Trump.


  • Guarneri Link

    Shorter Jan critique – Orange Man Bad, so anything goes. Its a sad thing, Jan. You won’t convince anyone.

    And steve has now mentioned Benghazi more times that anyone in the history of the world. The universal excuse………at least in his mind.

  • steve Link

    Actually, I have only mentioned Benghazi 8 times, but I can certainly relate to that as way too many times!


  • steve Link

    Just so Dave doesn’t feel like his effort was wasted, I think the article makes an important point. Yes, Clinton lied. However, he lied about consensual sex. The penalty for that is 20 more years of marriage to Hillary, not impeachment.

    In Trump’s case, he tried to get Ukraine to assist in his election effort. Conservatives seem to think that Hillary did the same thing in the last election so Donald should get a pass. The right thing to do would be to punish both Hillary and Trump. (The Trump DOJ has had almost 3 years to investigate and I am sure we will see charges any day now.)


  • jan Link

    Steve, Curiosity calls…other than the full transcript of the phone call between Trump and Zelensky, what other suggestive evidence do you have that, as you stated, Trump “tried to get Ukraine to assist in his election effort.”

  • TastyBits Link


    You need a secret progressive decoder ring to understand. Just send six Post Shredded Wheat (original) box tops to the Democrat National Committee, and you too can decipher the secret coded message transmitted each night.

    The evidence is “Trump bad”.

  • steve Link

    jan- The transcript alone should be enough, plus the fact that he publicly asked China for help also, but the investigation to date keeps turning up stuff. The ambassador texts noting that arms were held up until Ukraine helped. The recent stuff from Hill. All of the stuff coming out about Giuliani’s efforts is also supportive, though we should should wait for Bolton to testify then see what the final story is with Giuliani.


  • jan Link

    Tasty, what I question is how reasonable people can be so ”stuck” in impeachment mode, in lieu of continuing details emerging about the original whistleblower’s bias and relationship with Biden, the non disclosure and lies surrounding his earlier contact with Schiff, the unprecedented partisan way these proceedings are being conducted in secrecy – all being red flags crying “corruption.”

  • jan Link

    The texts were taken out of context from a much fuller hearing – 8 hours, I believe. Furthermore, that particular transcript has not been released, despite requests for it from republicans, as they assert his full testimony would exonerate the president. Also, any withholding of funding was not a factor in that conversation, as Zelensky wasn’t aware of such a hold – unlike the quid pro quo threat overtly made in a letter sent earlier by 3 democrat senators.

    Steve, in fact what you abhor and see as just cause for Trump’s impeachment are not even in the same league as what Democrats have done in the past, to get dirt on a political opponent or squeeze a country in order for them to cooperate into digging for said dirt!

  • TastyBits Link


    They may have caught President Trump this time, but their track record is not very good. It would be close to impossible for anybody to do half of what they have accused President Trump of doing, and by this time, it is a clown show.

    They throw shit against the wall and hope something sticks. It sticks at first, but then, it slides down the wall to join all the other shit. Saint Mueller was supposed to get him, but the Mueller report slide down the wall. AG Barr was covering for President Trump, but that charge slide down the wall. Saint Mueller’s testimony was going to stick, but it slide down the wall.

    Hotelgate, emoluments clause, 25th Amendment, and many more were going to be the shit that finally stuck to the wall. Alas, they too have slide down the wall. Maybe the Ukraine Conspiracy will stick, but I doubt it.

    The previous administration used a bogus report from a foreign spy to obtain a FISA warrant to conduct a covert operation to throw the election against the opposing party’s candidate because the opposing party’s candidate was allegedly conspiring with a foreign government to throw an election.

    But, I am assured that the bogus report was not 100% lies, and the Trump campaign did have an international spy in it – Page, Carter Page Agent Double-O Zero with his license to shill. Now, I am assured that there was absolutely, positively, one-hundred percent certainty that there was a Ukraine Conspiracy, and as proof, Chairman Schiff uses his secret progressive decoder ring to translate the actual transcript.

    I am still waiting for the perp-walks I was promised.

  • jan Link


    All the sinister plots, supported by misinformation and implemented by disguised black ops type figures, is like being taken for a violent ride in an amusement park, after which you just want to throw up.

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