A weekly window on the American political scene hosted by the Monitor's politics editors.

Does President Trump want to be impeached?

Why We Wrote This

Impeachment could be the fight of President Trump's political life. But this is a president that seems to welcome – and even thrive on – political brawls.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
President Donald Trump speaks to the media after arriving aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland,. Sept, 26, 2019.

Dear reader:

Does President Donald Trump want to be impeached?

At first glance, that seems an absurd proposition. A House vote to impeach him for pushing Ukraine’s leader to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden would put a permanent asterisk next to his presidency. There’s even a chance – though it appears small at the moment – that the Senate could vote to remove him from office.

Nevertheless, a number of pundits have lately speculated that President Trump may not regard impeachment as the starkly negative event most would assume.

Sure, it could be bad. But it could also be the fight of his life. And, observers note, this is a president that seems to welcome – and even thrive on – political brawls.

“The circus is the part of politics that he fundamentally enjoys,” writes New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. “I’m pretty sure that when he ranted on Twitter about the ‘Twelve Angry Democrats’ and ‘WITCH HUNT’ and ‘NO COLLUSION,’ he was more engaged, more alive, more fully his full self than at any point during the legislative battles over tax reform or Obamacare repeal.”

Mr. Douthat notes that President Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president came just one day after special counsel Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony. “Does that president seem like a man who’s particularly worried about being impeached?” he writes.

Moreover, as Mr. Trump surely knows, impeachment isn’t popular right now. According to FiveThirtyEight, the average of all impeachment polls taken since 2017 shows about 38 percent of the public would favor such a process, while 55 percent oppose it. By pursuing impeachment, Democrats might wind up helping Mr. Trump’s reelection prospects.

In addition, an impeachment battle could allow Mr. Trump to solidify his grip on the Republican Party. Anyone who wants to be a future power in the party will have to close ranks, and fight with him.

Still… really? The president must be aware that impeachment is a spot nothing could scrub out. “It’s a dirty word, the word ‘impeach’,” he said earlier this year to reporters on the White House lawn.

And once the process begins, there is no telling where it ends.

“Letting the cat out of the bag is a lot easier than putting it back in,” GOP Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Let us know what you’re thinking at csmpolitics@csmonitor.com.
Peter Grier, Senior staff writer

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