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Censure is a better option than pursuing impeachment for House Democrats. Here are five reasons.

Possibly bipartisan: There is a chance, however small, that censure could attract some Republican votes. In some Congressional districts currently held by the GOP, voting for censure would be the right political vote, especially in heavily suburban areas. President TrumpDonald John TrumpPerry ends final day as Energy secretary Mexican officials detain suspects in massacre of members of Mormon sect READ: White House’s letter to Nadler saying it won’t participate in impeachment hearing MORE is not widely beloved in wealthier communities that dot the outskirts of major metropolitan areas, but the economic disruption that could flow from impeachment is not popular either. Censuring the president could thread that needle.

Censure would be a victory; acquittal would be a defeat: If congressional Democrats successfully win a vote to censure the president, Trump would be hard-pressed to claim he was victorious. If, on the other hand, the Senate acquits the president, he will have a field day claiming he was innocent all along. We know that to be case, because that is precisely what Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonKerry: Fight against climate change should be treated like a ‘war’ Trump’s culpability is greater than Nixon’s Trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, and hardly a voice of caution to be heard MORE did in 1999, and he left office with impossibly high approval ratings.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFox’s Napolitano says Trump articles of impeachment could include bribery, obstruction Judiciary Democrat: House impeaching Trump not a ‘foregone conclusion’ UN leader rips world’s efforts to fight climate change as ‘utterly inadequate’ MORE would fully control a censure resolution: When the House passes articles of impeachment, it passes the baton over to the Senate majority leader. Do Democrats really believe that Sens. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump’s drug importation plan faces resistance in US, Canada Ginsburg health scare raises prospect of election year Supreme Court battle The job no GOP senator wants: ‘I’d rather have a root canal’ MORE (R-Ky.) or Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe job no GOP senator wants: ‘I’d rather have a root canal’ Graham on House Judiciary’s impeachment plans: ‘Salem witches got a better deal’ The Hill’s Morning Report — Dems and Trump score separate court wins MORE (R-S.C.) have their best interests at heart? 

McConnell has already hinted at a long, drawn-out trial that could complicate the Democratic primary process. Graham has insisted that he would call Hunter Biden and Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffWhite House won’t participate in first Judiciary impeachment hearing Lawmakers turn attention to potential witnesses at Judiciary impeachment hearings Klobuchar: ‘I don’t see’ voting to acquit Trump in Senate trial MORE (D-Calif.) to testify. How do they think that will play out in the court of public opinion?

Censure would allow the Democrats to move on: Obviously, the Speaker wants to send a strong message to her base that she hears their concerns and is acting on them. But every day that Democrats are not talking about health care is a day that they are slowly but steadily losing the election. The media has a limited attention span, and right now impeachment is king. While impeachment might excite the partisan bases on both sides of the aisle, to the vast middle that isn’t paying attention to the latest revelations that are dripping forth on the front pages of The New York Times, this is time not well spent making the case for their reelections.

Censure would be better for the country than impeachment: What the president did with his Ukrainian call is clearly not impeachable. But it wasn’t a perfect call either. We all know that partisan Democrats have wanted Trump removed from office since the very day he entered it and have come up with a variety of theories as to why he should be thrown out, from invoking the 25th Amendment to the current impeachment imbroglio. 

But the American people, in their collective wisdom, through a process designed by the Constitution, put him there, and they have the right to have their voices heard to replace him, should they decide that is the correct path to pursue. Short-circuiting the people is a very bad precedent and would needlessly divide the country for generations.

In 1998, some congressional Republicans and Democrats floated censure as a possible alternative to impeachment and when I worked for the House GOP Leadership, I thought that would have been a more prudent approach.

Part of the challenge with censure is it’s not outlined in the Constitution as a way to punish the president for actions that fall short of high crimes and misdemeanors. And indeed, the only president to be clearly censured by the Congress was Trump’s hero, Andrew Jackson. He was censured by the Senate because he defunded the Second Bank of the United States. That censure was later expunged from the record by Jackson’s Whig allies late in his second term in office.

I would vote against censure of this president, if I were in either the House or the Senate, because I think this has been a partisan exercise not worthy of the Congress. But if I were a congressional Democrat, I would prefer censure to impeachment. Impeachment would be bad for the country but probably good for the president. Censure wouldn’t be nearly as bad for the country nor nearly as good for the president.

Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at www.thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former Speaker Dennis HastertJohn (Dennis) Dennis HastertFeehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds Feehery: What Republicans must do to adapt to political realignment Feehery: How Republicans can win back the suburbs MORE (R-Ill.), as communications director to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).



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