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Impeachment Has ‘Lost Its Sting’ in Trump Era, Says Law Professor


People have talked about impeaching President Donald Trump since before he even won the Republican nomination. So what happens if proceedings actually happen? Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman sounds pretty grim. He argued Sunday that both major parties undermined the process by infusing it with too much politics, and that even Trump is “clearly toying” with the idea that impeachment might invigorate the GOP base.

“That he is treating impeachment as mere rhetoric shows that impeachment has lost its sting,” Feldman wrote in a new op-ed from Bloomberg. “That’s sad enough for now. It will be much, much sadder in the future, the next time we need impeachment to mean something.”

This comes after Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan, 3rd District) joined some Dems in arguing that yes, Trump’s behavior in the Mueller Report constituted obstruction of justice, and was impeachable.

Legal arguments aside, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been dancing around the I-word. She and fellow high-ranking Dem Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California, 28th District) have said they need the GOP to sign onto efforts to get rid of Trump. Practically speaking, Amash’s call for impeachment happened where it matters least. Democrats already control the House, and could impeach assuming there’s a party-line vote. Republicans have a majority in the Senate with 53 seats. The GOP’s lead is slight, but more than big enough to snuff removal efforts, since a super-majority is required over there.

Feldman acknowledged that while impeachment has always had a political aspect, the framers of the Constitution made removal hard to do and gave it a lot of gravity.

“Yet somehow, all the talk in the last two and a half years has robbed impeachment of its original serious content and atmosphere,” he wrote. “Maybe it’s just too many rapid-fire conversations on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, with their constant drumbeat of partisan prediction and preoccupation. We have talked about impeachment in the partisan context so much that we can no longer imagine it as something more than an electoral ploy.”

[Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

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