A University of Kansas political science professor notes that the process of impeachment inquiry is in its nature a political one.
“Alexander Hamilton wrote about it,” said Patrick Miller. “He actually said it was a political tool. He wrote about it as a tool that could be used, when, effectively, the public trust is violated.”
In the same Federalist Paper, number 65, Hamilton wrote that, “it ought not to be forgotten that the demon of faction will, at certain seasons, extend his sceptre over all numerous bodies of men.”
“It is a political process,” Miller said. “You could even argue that was explicitly something that was intended by our founders. If impeachment and removal as a tool is something that Congress can use, as Hamilton wrote, when there is a perception that the public trust is violated and that a public official is therefore unfit for office, that is an inherently political question of, what is the public trust and what violates it?”
It’s important to remember that we’re in a different climate politically than we have been in the past.
“Control of Congress is divided, which is not something that we’ve seen, historically, when impeachment has been used against a President,” said Miller. “Impeachment of, say, federal judges, has been a lot less controversial and has even moved forward at times when control of Congress was divided. But, I think the rancor we’re seeing in Congress, up to the point of Mitch McConnell saying that he believes he has the power to dismiss impeachment articles by a majority vote, which is not clear, if he actually does or not. That’s rhetoric we really haven’t ever seen before.”
Miller said he doesn’t know if the timing of the inquiry will have any impact on the 2020 election, as it’s too early to tell how quickly the process will happen.