Many tremble at the word, fearing how Trump’s supporters will react to an impeachment inquiry, worrying that it will only further polarize an already deeply divided nation or that there will not be enough votes in the Republican-controlled Senate to convict him even if the newly empowered Democratic majority in the House of Representatives votes to impeach. Just calling for an inquiry will be viewed as a Democratic Party attack on the head of another party, a kind of coup d’état. It’s easy to find reasons to be anxious.
IMPEACHING PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP is a pipe dream, many say. Nancy Pelosi, who’s expected to be the new House speaker, isn’t keen on going for impeachment, nor is Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — and a lot of people aren’t either because they’ve been misinformed and misled. Contrary to common perception, the president does not need to commit a crime in order to be impeached. Allegations of collusion aside, Trump is guilty of impeachable crimes and misdemeanors, such as the violating the emoluments clause and tax fraud.
Just last week, right after the midterms, he fired his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and replaced him — perhaps unconstitutionally — with a crony. He denied White House access to a reporter he doesn’t like and tried to undermine the vote recounts in Florida and Georgia with false and unfounded claims about election fraud. The Democrats need to start making a public case for impeachment and preparing the ground for a trial in the Senate, even if it ends up being a trial they don’t or can’t win.
Former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman and author of the new book, “The Case For Impeaching Trump,” joins Mehdi Hasan this week to discuss the case for impeaching Donald Trump. She played a key role in the impeachment of Richard Nixon and believes that Donald Trump’s actions are “exactly the kind” that were declared impermissible in Nixon’s articles of impeachment.
Elizabeth Holtzman: I served on the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment process against Richard Nixon. That process was not started by a special prosecutor who had political ambitions. It was started when the American people rose up and said enough is enough.
Mehdi Hasan: Welcome to Deconstructed. I’m Mehdi Hasan.
Today on the show: impeaching Donald Trump. I know, I know, it’s too soon. There’s not enough evidence. There aren’t enough votes. It would be overreach by the new House Democratic majority. Yes, yes, I know all the liberal objections. But I’m gonna do some impeachment myth-busting today, and I’m also going to talk to the author of a new book on the case for impeaching Trump, an author who just happens to have also been a key player in the impeachment process against Richard Nixon.
EH: You would think that once the country had gone through Watergate, the president would learn the lesson but apparently not.
MH: That was former congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman who voted on the Articles of Impeachment in the House Judiciary Committee back in 1974, and who’s the author of a new book which came out on Monday called “The Case for Impeaching Trump.”
So this week on Deconstructed, let’s talk impeachment.
Marie Harf: The Blue Wave is looking much bluer than I think the conventional wisdom held on Tuesday night.
Chris Matthews: It’s been three days since Tuesday’s referendum on the president and the Blue Wave keeps growing.
Van Jones: This Blue Wave was actually bigger and bluer than it actually looked like at first.
MH: Guess what? It was a Blue Wave not a blue trickle as some pundits wrongly suggested last week. Post the midterms, the Democrats now control the House of Representatives with a healthy majority and also picked up some red state Senate seats too. Hello, Arizona. So, what do they do now with their newfound power and influence on Capitol Hill?
Host: To impeach or not to impeach. That’s Nancy Pelosi’s new dilemma.
Host: Should house Democrats file articles of impeachment or is that premature?
Nancy Pelosi: I don’t think we should impeach a president for political reasons.
MH: Nancy Pelosi who is expected to be the new House Speaker isn’t keen on going for impeachment nor is Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer. But I am and I think people aren’t keen on impeaching Trump because they’ve been a little misinformed and may be misled. In fact, there are two main myths that are often put about when anyone raises the issue of impeaching this President and I want to thoroughly debunk both before we get to our very interesting and unique guest today.
The first myth is that the president of the United States has to have broken the law in order to impeached. Nope, not true. Article 2, Section 4 of the Constitution says the president “Shall be removed from office on impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” That famous phrase “High crimes and misdemeanors,” doesn’t refer to a criminal offense, to a felony. It refers to abuse of public office. It’s a political offense.
The whole impeachment process is inherently political not criminal. And you don’t have to take my word for it Founding Father Alexander Hamilton in Federalist Number 65 defined impeachable offenses as, “Those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men or in other words from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. Abuse or violation of public trust, misconduct, injuries to society.”
I think that sounds pretty Trumpian to me. Listen also to Gerald Ford, the Republican vice president who took over when Republican President Richard Nixon quit in 1974 to avoid impeachment. Ford said early on in his career when he was trying to impeach Supreme Court Justice “An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.”
Got it? Whatever the majority in the House considers it to be, not what’s defined by a federal criminal statute. So, when you hear Republican apologists for this President, like Rudy Giuliani, now loudly moving the goal posts and saying –
Rudy Giuliani: Collusion is not a crime.
MH: – The only response to that has to be, “Well, who cares if colluding with Russia isn’t a crime, the point is that it could and should be considered a high crime and misdemeanor under Article 2 Section 4 of The Constitution.” It’s impeachable.
But this leads me to the second myth that poisons every debate on impeachment and Trump these days and that really annoys me. And it’s to do with the Russia investigation and Robert Mueller. The idea that you can’t begin the process of impeaching Trump until you’ve got the final report from special counsel Robert Mueller and that report has to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Trump personally colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election. But that’s mad. We don’t need to wait for evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors when Trump has been committing high crimes and misdemeanors from the moment he took office on January 20th, 2017.
Take the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution which is supposed to prevent the president from taking gifts, from getting money, from foreign governments.
The Insane Gifts Saudi Arabia Gave President Trump The gifts range from the regal (“Artwork featuring picture of President Trump”) to the martial (multiple swords, daggers, leather ammo holders), to the baroque (cheetah fur robes).
CNN Commentator: There is a lot of scrutiny over the fact that Saudi lobbyists spent $270,000 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.
MH: You want evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors? Go to Mar-a-Lago, go to the Trump International Hotel down the street from the White House. Check out those gifts. How about obstruction of justice? Remember when Trump fired the head of the FBI who was overseeing an investigation into his campaign’s ties to the Russian government and then told an NBC interviewer straight up why he did it.
Donald Trump: When I decided to just do what I said to myself I said, “You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.”
MH: How about using the power of the federal government to settle personal scores and to put pressure on the private business of one of your critics. Isn’t that impeachable?
Chris Hayes: The president has reportedly been working hard behind closed doors to punish Jeff Bezos financially, pushing the post office to double Amazon’s shipping charges.
MH: How about tax fraud? Is that an impeachable offense?
Ari Melber: Donald Trump’s tax records reveal fraud and schemes to duck taxes on a massive long-term scale.
MH: How about the President telling his personal lawyer in the run-up to the presidential election to pay hush money to a woman he had an affair with, which that lawyer then admitted to doing at the president’s direction in open court?
Nermeen Shaikh: Michael Cohen directly implicated Trump in committing a federal crime.
MH: Does that count as a high crimes and misdemeanors? I mean, seriously forget Russia for a moment. Even without allegations of collusion, which by the way, I happen to think are serious and very credible allegations, even without Russia and Mueller, it’s crystal clear that this president is a collection of impeachable offenses made human.
Trump walks and talks high crimes and misdemeanors on a near-daily basis. Just last week after the midterms, he fired his Attorney General replacing him perhaps unconstitutionally with a crony, denied White House access to a reporter he doesn’t like, and then tried to undermine the recounts in Florida and Georgia with false and unfounded claims about election fraud.
Now, look I get it impeachment isn’t easy. The House votes on impeachment, but the Senate does the convicting. You need a whopping two-thirds majority in the Senate to get that conviction and the Democrats don’t even have a simple majority in the Senate, let alone 67 votes. So impeaching Trump, no matter how much he deserves to be impeached – and let’s be honest, if Trump is never impeached, we should probably issue a collective apology to the family of Richard Nixon. Impeaching Trump many say is a pipe dream.
Well, that’s not the view of my guest today and she knows a thing or two about impeaching presidents.
ABC Anchor: ABC News presents complete nationwide coverage of tonight’s election ’72.
MH: Elizabeth Holtzman was elected to the House of Representatives from New York in 1972 at the age of 31 which made her at the time the youngest woman ever elected to the US Congress. It turned out to be a fateful moment to join that august body.
NBC Anchor: The country tonight is in the midst of what may be the most serious constitutional crisis in its history. The president has fired the special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox. Because of the President’s action, the Attorney General has resigned.
MH: As the Watergate scandal deepened, Holtzman as a member of the House Judiciary Committee found herself at the very center of the action.
Man: All those in favor, please signify by saying “Aye.” Miss Holtzman?
Man: Mr. Owens?
Anchor: And so, it happened for the first time in 107 years, a committee of the House had recommended the impeachment and removal from office by the Senate of a president.
Anchor: President Nixon reportedly will announce his resignation tonight.
Richard Nixon: I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.
MH: The impeachment process worked. Nixon of course jumped before being pushed and this week, 44 years after Elizabeth Holtzman played a part in bringing down the 37th president, she has a new book out on why we should impeach number 45. In “The Case for Impeaching Trump,” Holtzman describes the current occupant of the Oval Office as “A clear and present danger to our democracy. President Trump’s actions,” she writes, “are indicative of a president who has established a different standard of justice for himself. Exactly the kind that we declared impermissible in Nixon’s articles of impeachment. He has done so at the expense of democracy and he’s done so at his own peril.”
Elizabeth Holtzman, thanks for joining me on Deconstructed. You’ve written this new book “The Case for Impeaching Trump” which came out on Monday. Give us your basic summary, your main argument as to why you believe there is a case for impeaching Trump even before Robert Mueller produces his final report on Trump and Russia.
EH: There’s enough information in the public arena to start an inquiry into whether Donald Trump should be impeached. I don’t know that we’re ready for an impeachment vote at the moment because we need to inform the public, and mobilize the public with regard to the evidence that we have. No one’s really put out a blueprint of how impeachment could happen. And that’s what this book tries to do.
MH: And I’m glad you’ve written and I’m glad you mentioned the public because impeachment doesn’t come falling out of the sky. You have to make the case for it like anything else in a democracy.
EH: Correct. And that’s what happened during Watergate. I served on the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment process against Richard Nixon. That process was not started by a “gotcha” movement in the House of Representatives or the Senate. It was started – and it wasn’t started by a special prosecutor who had political ambitions. It was started when the American people rose up and said enough is enough.
And what triggered that was when Richard Nixon, the president the United States, ordered that the special prosecutor investigating him over the Watergate break-in should be fired. The American people said “No, a president can’t pick his own prosecutor. The president can’t decide who is going to investigate him and how that investigation’s going to take place.”
MH: And you mention firing special prosecutors and not picking who gets to investigate you. Of course, we have a president right now who fired the FBI Chief, fired the Attorney General, wants to fire the special counsel, we know tried in the past. We hear a lot about Nixon when we talk about Trump. You of course, were actually there during the Nixon impeachment crisis on the House Judiciary Committee. How much of a parallel is there in your view between Trump’s behavior now and Nixon’s behavior then?
EH: Well, the parallels are very disturbing, even shocking. You would think that once the country had gone through Watergate, the president would learn the lesson but apparently not. I mean we have too many similarities. As you mentioned, the firing of the FBI director who is conducting an investigation into the Trump campaign and its collusion with Russia, the talk about firing Mueller, the attacks on the Mueller investigation, the firing of Sessions, and most recently the appointment of someone who is obviously unfit to be Attorney General as acting Attorney General.
It may even be unconstitutional to – yeah, may even be unconstitutional to appoint him, but Whitaker has already expressed extreme hostility to this investigation.
MH: And you voted “Yes” on the articles of impeachment on the House Judiciary Committee back in the 70s. And then you saw Nixon resign to avoid being impeached. Did you ever think at the time four decades from now we’ll be replaying a lot of this, and we won’t have learned the lessons from this period?
EH: No, I never thought that. And by the way, there’s some other things that are similar. For example during the impeachment, one of the grounds for the impeachment of Richard Nixon was the dangling of pardons, presidential pardons to the Watergate burglars to hush them up. We’ve had constant talk about whether presidential pardons were for example, dangled here in front of various people associated with the investigation.
MH: Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, even Michael Cohen, at one stage there was talk of pardoning all these people. You’re right there.
MH: Do you believe Donald Trump is a bigger crook or could turn out to be a bigger crook than tricky-dicky Nixon?
EH: Well, we didn’t have too much evidence about Nixon’s personal finances, although there was a substantial amount of evidence –
MH: Well, he released his tax returns.
EH: – Well, yeah, there was hanky-panky in those taxes. He took a $450,000 deduction for a donation of his papers that was found to be improper.
MH: At least he showed us his tax returns.
EH: He did release his tax returns, but the committee decided that that action, reprehensible though it was, was not a ground for impeachment because the committee had enormously more serious ground of impeachment that not only affected the president’s, just action and lawfulness, but first ground for impeachment was his obstruction of justice. In essence, his effort to impede the investigation into the Watergate break-in and he used the whole apparatus of the presidency to try to stop it.
But then there were the other things that he did, that was in second article of impeachment, that had to do with illegal wiretap that he ordered, the enemies list against political opponents, ordering audits, IRS audits of people who opposed the war. Then you had his acquiescence in, ratification of the breaking into Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office to find evidence to smear him.
And then of course, you had all the misuse of power that took place in connection with the obstruction of justice. So, those were very serious –
EH: – misdeeds.
MH: Very serious and it’s so interesting, and so fascinating to hear you speak about them because obviously you speak about not just as a historian of that period, but as someone who lived through it, worked through it. You’re not just a former congresswoman who was involved in the Nixon impeachment process, but you’re also a Harvard Law grad. To be clear, you don’t believe, do you, that the high crimes and misdemeanors that the constitution says justifies impeaching and removing a present from office have to necessarily be criminal offenses, do they? They don’t have to be criminal offenses?
EH: No, not at all. In fact, as I mentioned before, when we first started the impeachment process on the House Judiciary Committee against Richard Nixon, I don’t think many people understood the grounds in the Constitution for impeachment. They are: treason, which is defined in the Constitution, bribery, which is a pretty well understood term, and other high crimes and misdemeanors. The fact of the matter is a high crime and misdemeanor is not an ordinary crime that a normal person can commit. It’s a crime that involves the misuse of the powers of office. That’s why it’s high because it’s committed by a high official.
MH: You say in your new book that, “for some impeachment is something toxic to be avoided at all costs,” but you see impeachment “as the grand and solemn tool designed to protect our democracy and to preserve the rule of law.” Why do you think it is that so many people do see it as something bad to be avoided at all costs?
EH: Well, I think that we’ve had three presidential impeachment efforts and two were toxic and wrong. The first against Andrew Johnson has been condemned by historians as completely partisan. The one against Bill Clinton – I lived through that and that was also highly partisan and really a gotcha effort. It never had any public support and the president never used the powers of his office to engage in the acts, as reprehensible as they were.
This was not a threat to the democracy in the way that Richard Nixon’s actions were. He used the powers of his office, of the presidency for example, to tell the CIA to stop an FBI investigation. That was a high crime and misdemeanor. You and I couldn’t commit that crime. We’re not President. We could never tell the CIA to stop an FBI investigation, but a president who did that in order to stop an investigation into his campaign, his aides, and himself. That’s a high crime and misdemeanor.
MH: I mean, as you say in the book, a lot of people still don’t want to, you know, use this tool.
EH: Right and because they saw the Clinton impeachment which they felt was an abuse of power and unwarranted. They don’t want to see impeachment again, but what they don’t remember, Watergate is very far away in history now, even though I lived through it. What they don’t remember is that actually the impeachment effort brought the country together. It didn’t divide us. Everybody said when we were starting the impeachment effort, “Oh impeachment is terrible. It’ll never work. It’ll be partisan. The country won’t support it. It’ll tear us apart.” All these terrible things. None of those things happened –
MH: But hold on, Elizabeth. Isn’t the problem that the 70s now look like a more innocent time even, dare I say? I saw Carl Bernstein, one of the Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story, being interviewed not so long ago and he was suggesting that if he broke Watergate today, it wouldn’t topple Richard Nixon because you’d have Fox News pushing out disinformation on his behalf. You’d have Nixon saying it’s all fake news. And now, unlike then the Republicans aren’t willing to put country over party and vote against their own president, are they?
EH: Yes, but what happened in Watergate is, I’m not sure that there was a – there definitely was not a nose count. And when we started, we didn’t actually even know that there was going to be evidence to warrant an impeachment.
Now you have to remember one thing that is very different from 1973 and 4 to today. Richard Nixon was elected in one of the largest landslides in American history, which meant for the public to support the impeachment effort millions of Americans had to change their mind.
MH: But it was easier to change minds back then. You didn’t have this kind of state propaganda channel in the form of Fox News or social media. You had a Republican party full of semi-reasonable people that were willing to tell Nixon “You gotta go otherwise we’ll impeach you.” It’s hard to imagine a Mitch McConnell, or a Chuck Grassley, or a Lindsey Graham, the great sycophant-in-chief these days say anything similar to Donald Trump. Or Trump even listening to them, even if they did.
EH: They may not, but their colleagues might and if you had overwhelming evidence as we had during Watergate, and if you spelled out the grounds for impeachment, you would begin to get the kind of public support that allowed the House Judiciary Committee to go forward. Now, we don’t, we have no confidence in the process. We want to have the result. We want to know that we’ve got two thirds of the Senate and a majority in the House of Representatives before we start. Even before we set out the case, even before anybody does any research, even before –
MH: But given right now, given right now, the Democrats don’t have a two-thirds majority, they don’t have any majority in the Senate.
EH: – Correct.
MH: And given how partisan politics is and how loyal the Republicans have proved to be to this, you know, almost lawless president in many ways, what is your actual plan? If Nancy Pelosi were to ring you up tomorrow, she says “Elizabeth. I’ve read your book, what should we do next? What’s the plan for me and Chuck Schumer in the Senate?” What would you say is the plan?
EH: The real plan in the Senate, I think, they’ve tried to be somewhat bipartisan in at least, the Senate Intelligence Committee Investigation. But they haven’t been thorough. The first thing that has to be done: the work of investigating what President Trump did and how he did it has not been finished.
Go back to Watergate. The Senate Watergate hearings had public hearings with public figures. John Dean testified in public. Ehrlichman and Haldeman testified in public. The American people a chance to see them. The top people here never testified in public: Steve Bannon. Jared Kushner.
MH: They’re all on NDA’s or members of his family.
EH: Well, the fact of the matter is the public hasn’t seen this testimony and aside from that many of these people refused to answer questions. The committee’s refused to subpoena documents. The committee’s refused to do a thorough investigation.
MH: No, there’s a lot there definitely and I agree with you. They should try and make an effort and I’m completely with you on the opening inquiry. I think the Democrats need to take a much tougher line on impeachment. A couple of things I worry about that I wanted to run past you. The first is that the partisan nature of this. The way it will be framed. You of course, yourself voted in favor of impeaching Nixon. You wrote a book making the case for impeaching George W. Bush, and you’ve now written this new book “The Case for Impeaching Trump,” and yet in 1996, you testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee that Bill Clinton shouldn’t be impeached. Do you understand why a lot of Republicans will say “typical Democrats, you just want to use impeachment to get rid of only Republican presidents that you don’t like.” They might come into office and say you know, “you’ve impeached ours, we’re going to impeach yours. We’re going to impeach President Bernie or Warren.”
EH: Right. I mean people can always make those charges. I reject them. I’m very concerned about making sure that presidents of the United States obey the law and don’t create a kind of new monarchy where they put themselves above the law, commit crimes, or commit egregious acts that harm our democracy without accountability.
MH: So the other concern I have is, okay, in the 70s you got the evidence. You did the process. You got the votes and Nixon left of his own accord before being impeached. He would have been impeached. You had the votes. You had the public support. My worry is this time as much as I support impeaching Donald Trump. I do recognize the fact that Donald Trump is not Richard Nixon ,and even if you were to get the votes, which is very hard to get, and impeach him and convict him in the Senate, you still have to get him to leave. What if he refuses to leave? What if he says this is a deep state coup? What if his supporters who we know are kind of cultish take to the streets? That’s a real risk, isn’t it in 2018, 2019, 2020?
EH: Well, everything is a risk, but I think you have to hope that the Democratic impulse of Americans and the commitment to democracy is going to work. I don’t, I mean in the end we thought there was a lot of concern that Richard Nixon might stir up a war with Russia. There was a high alert that was called.
MH: And Trump could stir up a war with Iran or he could just flat-out refuse to go. This is a man who said he wouldn’t respect the result of the 2016 election if it had gone against him. This is the man who’s claiming the recounts in Florida and Georgia are somehow illegitimate. Will he accept impeachment?
EH: Yeah, we’ll figure that out if we come to that point.
MH: I wish I had your optimism. I mean, I hope you’re right. But I do worry about it. You say in your piece for The Intercept this week that Donald Trump is “a clear and present danger to our democracy,” which is something else I completely agree with you on. We’ve discussed it on the show before but do you think the leaders of the democratic party in Congress, specifically Chuck Schumer in the Senate, Nancy Pelosi probably soon to be Speaker of the House, do they recognize how serious, how almost existential that threat is from Trump? Since last week, since the midterms, they’ve both been talking up the idea of finding common ground with him, doing deals with him on infrastructure and the rest, and playing down the need for impeachment, which seems mad to me. And I wrote about that for The Intercept on Monday, the idea that they’re not taking the threat from him seriously enough. Do you agree?
EH: Well, you know, they, look, this is not very different from what happened during Watergate. The house leadership was not in favor of impeachment. They were adamantly opposed to impeachment. Here you had a Senate Watergate Committee that had heard from John Dean, had heard from Haldeman and Ehrlichman. Had heard from a lot of people involved with the Watergate break-in. The Senate Watergate committee uncovered the tapes and nobody in the House of Representatives would allow an impeachment process to take place. They didn’t want it. And that’s when the Democrats controlled the House and the Senate, and we had a Republican president and they refused to act.
Okay, what happened? The American people rose up after the Saturday Night Massacre and said Congress, get off your rear end and do something to hold this President accountable. And that’s when the effort started and it was bipartisan from the get-go. The Democrats picked a Republican as their general counsel, the Republicans, of course, picked a Republican as a general counsel.
MH: But in the 70s, Elizabeth, that stuff worked. Now you have Jim Comey, lifelong Republican, Robert Mueller lifelong Republican—doesn’t endear them to the Republicans at all. This is a Republican party that just doesn’t care.
EH: Well they may not care, but the American people will care. We saw the American people give a pretty resounding rebuff this in the midterm elections to Donald Trump. So I don’t think that you can just sit here and say “Well it’s different now and no, we don’t have the votes in the Senate and no — you know, that’s the exact kind of thing that went on during Watergate, except they never even tried to take the votes in the Senate before they started the process in the House because they understand –
MH: Don’t get me wrong, Elizabeth, I’m with you. I’m with you. I’m glad you’re writing this stuff. I just, I’m slightly more pessimistic about though, I admire your optimism. So let me ask you this: prediction time, do you think he will be impeached?
EH: I think it depends on the quality of evidence that we can find. I think that that’s really key. For example, in Watergate, we were fortunate enough to find a taping system. That came out because of the Senate’s careful, thorough, methodical bipartisan inquiry.
MH: Okay. I’m going to re-ask the question. Do you think it’s more likely or less likely that he will be impeached, if you had to just make a bet?
President Gerald Ford shakes hands with Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, D-N.Y., after completing his testimony to the House Judiciary subcommittee on his reasons for granting a pardon to former President Richard Nixon on Oct. 17, 1974.
EH: I’m not a betting person, but I would like to see a real process.
MH: (laughs) Well it was worth a try, I just thought I’d ask the author of the book “The Case for Impeaching Donald Trump.” Is it going to happen? Because there may be a case for it, but will it actually happen before 2020?
EH: If we sit back and do nothing, it’ll never happen. We have to just reach out and try, find the facts, find the law, educate the American people, and then trust that they will work, and speak out to preserve democracy. If the American people don’t want democracy, we’re not going to get it. No matter what we do.
MH: My worry is a lot of American people don’t want democracy these days. Just on the on the issue of “child separations,” I hate using that phrase because it was more like child theft, you wrote about what happened at the border in your book and in your article for The Intercept. You say “It’s not an impeachable offense, but it reflects on what kind of President the United States has –”
EH: No, I do think that’s an impeachable offense.
MH: – Oh, you do? Oh wow.
EH: Yes, I do think that that kind of lawlessness can amount to an impeachable offense. We saw – first of all, there’s no law that allowed President Trump to do what he did in terms of ordering the separation. This is an egregious offense in my opinion. Egregious misuse of the power of his office to deprive people of their due process rights. Because if our president could do it to those children, what children are safe?
MH: That was Elizabeth Holtzman, former member of Congress, author of the new book “The Case for Impeaching Trump.”
And maybe you share some of our optimism. I hope it’s infectious because I think she makes a key point in that interview, which is that impeachment being a political process requires public support. And rather than being negative, or pessimistic, or defeatist, rather than saying let’s wait for the evidence when a lot of the evidence is staring us in the face, the Democrats need to start making a public case for impeachment, for the merits of impeachment, for the need for impeachment. They need to start preparing the ground for a trial in the Senate. Even if it ends up being a trial they don’t or can’t win.
I happen to think Fox News makes it much harder to impeach Trump than it was to impeach Nixon, no matter the evidence. But having said that, I also happen to believe Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to democracy and to not use a constitutionally provided tool to try and stop him, to try and prevent him from undermining democracy and the Constitution is just political malpractice.