Although the impeachment of President Trump still seems like a long shot to even the most hopeful, the prospect nonetheless troubles some Republicans, including Roger Stone.
As noted on Impeachable Offenses back in August, Mr. Stone, a former Nixon aide, said in an interview with the website TMZ, “Try to impeach him. Just try it.” Stone went on to say, “You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection, like you’ve never seen,” and that “both sides are heavily armed… This is not 1974 – people will not stand for impeachment.” He ended the discussion by saying that any congressman or woman would be “endangering their own life” if they voted in favor of proceeding with articles of impeachment.
The comparison to 1974 may be interesting, but the bigger question revolves around the significance of this comment. While Stone insists his comments were a prediction of violence rather than a statement advocating it, this casual approach to political violence is troubling and made more so by its similarity to then-candidate Trump’s comments about “2nd Amendment people” somehow taking action against Hillary Clinton.
This is not the first time Stone has seemed to condone violence against his political opponents – last year Stone vowed “days of rage” if the Republican Party attempted to stop Donald Trump from securing the GOP nomination. Stone went so far as to threaten to publicize the hotel information for any delegates that may swap their vote.
Even if comments of this sort can be discounted as unprofessional and insensitive but not aimed at incitement, the silence of many other Republicans shows a disturbing unwillingness to condemn political violence from persons associated with the party’s electoral base. After the Trump administration’s difficultly in denouncing Nazism and white supremacy, one must wonder whether Mr. Trump and his supporters simply do not understand the consequences advocating or failing to condemn violence, or if they simply do not care because it would work in their favor.
Some argue this violent rhetoric may be grounds to explore impeachment. While the investigation into the ties between Donald Trump and Russia continues to develop, rhetoric like this has some looking at removal for reasons beyond “treason,” “bribery,” or “high crimes or misdemeanors.” A handful of House Democrats have evoked the 25th Amendment, by introducing a resolution “Urging the Vice President and the Cabinet to fulfill their duties pursuant to Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” The resolution urges the Cabinet to examine the President for any impairments to his abilities that “prevent him from discharging his constitutional duties.” The malleability of this phrase may be cause for concern. Not to mention the practical concerns of a President’s own Cabinet and Vice President analyzing his fitness for office. These sorts of concerns are why the Founders thoroughly debated and decided against including language of “maladministration” as grounds for impeachment, in fear that the standard could be easily manipulated with political motivations. Although recent rhetoric may be cause for concern, exploring impeachment in such a political fashion could set a dangerous and arbitrary precedent for future administrations.