Is it time to impeach Donald Trump a third time?
The week is young, but it has already been thick with fresh revelations about the former president's attempts to steal the 2020 election. On Sunday, Trump released a statement that — perhaps inadvertently — explicitly stated he'd wanted then-Vice President Mike Pence to "change the results of the election." Then, Monday night, The New York Times reported Trump had been more directly involved than previously known in never-executed proposals to have the U.S. military seize voting machines to "prove" his false allegations of election fraud. That was apparently too much for even Rudy Giuliani — yes, the guy who held this bonkers press conference — who predicted the scheme would result in Trump's second impeachment. He was right.
Enter Never-Trump conservative Bill Kristol, who reacted Sunday to Trump's "change the outcome" confession with a call for a third impeachment:
Kristol was kind of kidding, but also kind of not. "The focus of the Jan. 13 impeachment was Trump's 'inciting violence,'" he wrote Tuesday morning. "But the attempt to use government instrumentalities to subvert the election is as or more worthy of impeachment, conviction, and disqualification from future office."
He's right, but of course it's never going to happen. Even if Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were to make the call — and he won't — just seven GOP senators voted for Trump's impeachment conviction after the Jan. 6 insurrection. Where will Kristol find another 10?
The problem with Trump is the same as it has been for the last year. This new report is interesting, but it's more of what we already knew: Trump tried and failed to use the levers of government to overturn President Biden's election, then incited an uprising intended to intimidate Pence and Congress into doing his bidding. Everything else is just details. It's up to Americans to figure out what to do with that information.
The current trends are discouraging. The Republican Party has only become more institutionally Trumpified in the last year. Kristol's proposed impeachment wouldn't undo that — nor, despite the fervent hopes of Democrats, would Trump's indictment in any of the various investigations currently targeting him. Accountability is important, but it also has limits. Even if Trump were disqualified from future office, we'd still be left with a crisis of democracy.
It's fun to fantasize about a quick and dramatic solution to the problems that Trump personifies. Unfortunately, we're long past that point.