It’s true. I deal with hypotheticals on occasion. I churn ideas around in my noggin, wondering what might happen if certain events were to transpire.
Let’s talk briefly about a potential presidential impeachment.
First of all, I don’t really want to see Donald Trump impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. Believe me or disbelieve me if you wish. That’s just how I feel.
But if it were to happen sometime in 2019 with a new Democratic majority running the House, it’s good to wonder what happens at the end.
Presidential impeachment is stressful to the max … for the government and for partisans on both or all sides of a political dispute. It’s a huge deal, man! It’s happened just twice: Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 and Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998. They both were acquitted, although President Johnson escaped conviction by a single Senate vote. President Nixon quit in 1974 when the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment, assuring the full House would follow suit.
Donald Trump is facing the prospect — I won’t judge its probability — of impeachment but only if Democrats win control of the House after next month’s midterm election. Democrats need a simple majority in the House to impeach a president.
Then we have the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who appears to be winding it down.
Suppose, then, Mueller presents evidence of, say, collusion with Russians who attacked our 2016 election. Suppose, too, he finds evidence of obstruction of justice based on Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey. Finally, let’s suppose Mueller produces evidence that the president violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which says presidents cannot take gifts from foreign governments.
OK, so the House impeaches the president. Then it goes to the Senate, where there will be a trial presided over by Chief Justice John Roberts. Congressional Republicans so far have been standing by their guy, Trump. If Democrats take control of the Senate, it likely will be by a tiny margin … maybe a seat or two. That’s not enough to convict a president; conviction requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate.
But wait! What if the evidence is so compelling, so overwhelming that enough Republicans cross over to side with Democrats? And what if the president is convicted and tossed out of office? Vice President Pence takes over.
Here is where I am going with this.
Should the House and Senate then ensure that Trump’s presidency is not recognized? There might be a move to obliterate any evidence that Donald Trump served as 45th president. It cannot happen? Sure it can. Such a thing has happened in at least one statehouse: in my home state of Oregon.
The image of a former governor, Democrat Neil Goldschmidt, has been removed from the state capitol building in Salem. He was a successful governor and then a transportation secretary in the Carter administration. Then he admitted just a few years ago — after a newspaper investigation — that when he was mayor of Portland, he had sexual affair with an underage girl. Goldschmidt then vanished from public view, never to be seen again.
They took his portrait down in the state capitol rotunda, as if Goldschmidt never existed.
Does the same fate befall Donald Trump in the event he is convicted? I think it should, just as I am glad they removed Neil Goldschmidt from any recognition in my home state.
Do I want any of this to happen? No. I do not. I merely want the truth to be revealed about what the president knew, when he knew it.
I would actually settle for an apology. It would provide enough pain to the president to satisfy me. He’s never apologized for anything in his life … ever! Right?