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Impeachment seems doomed to failure

The impeachment process is rolling along in Congress. On Thursday the Democrat-controlled House approved a resolution setting rules for an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. The House was split on party lines, with only two Democrats siding with all the Republicans to oppose the resolution. That party-line vote is an indication of why this will be an exercise in futility.

Trump has given Congress plenty of ammunition for these inquiries, from the allegations spelled out in the Robert Mueller report, to the ill-considered withholding of military aid to the Ukraine in an attempt to force them to investigate Joe Biden, Trump’s political rival.

But no matter how much momentum the impeachment process gains, it is going to run up against a massive roadblock in the Senate. If the House succeeds in passing articles of impeachment against Trump, there will still have to be a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, and it is highly unlikely that many, if any, Republicans will vote to impeach the president.

There is little political upside for Democrats in an impeachment process that doesn’t result in Trump’s removal. It won’t embarass Trump, who has shown time and again he is has absolutely no capacity for feeling shame. It won’t re-establish the balance of power between Congress and the presidency. That power shift happened long before Trump was elected. Will it lead to better results for Democrats in the 2020 election? Perhaps, but it will also rally Trump’s supporters.

We don’t agree with critics who claim that the impeachment inquiries so far are illegitimate. But with little or no prospect for removing the president, we wonder if the impeachment process is a worthwhile use of Congress’ time.

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