A law professor and CNN talking head says President Trump should do the “patriotic” thing and resign the presidency instead of putting the country through an impeachment trial — just like Richard Nixon did in 1974.
The University of Baltimore’s F. Michael Higginbotham writes at CNN.com that, like Nixon, Trump could preserve “his own historical legacy but also the country he had taken an oath to serve” with his resignation.
Higginbotham certainly is no non-partisan observer. He repeats the Democratic talking points that Trump attempted to “solicit an investigation of political dirt” against Joe Biden despite (supposedly) “no evidence.” He even argues Trump’s crimes (or “crimes”) are actually worse than Nixon’s as “they concern an attempt to involve a foreign power in the American political process.”
Nixon and Trump also have in common fiercely loyal supporters. Nixon’s popularity in his second term had been quite high. He won reelection in 1972 with more than 60% of the popular vote and 520 electoral votes. The Watergate scandal reduced Nixon’s political support, but his hardcore supporters urged him to fight on.
But Nixon emphasized country over personal considerations in deciding to resign. While most historians believe the full House would have voted to impeach, and the Senate would have secured the necessary two-thirds vote for removal, the trial process would have been extremely divisive and painful for the country.
In retrospect, we will never know whether a show of stubbornness — like Trump’s — might have switched the political dynamic and persuaded the Senate to not convict, but we can instead be grateful that Nixon did not put the system to the test.
Nixon’s poll numbers really took a nose dive when the House was about to impeach him. Trump’s been impeached and his poll numbers have actually gotten better. Even a poll which shows the public approving of the impeachment notes there was “slightly greater support” for the measure … before the actual vote on it.
Nevertheless, if the public is treated to a Senate trial, “the consequences for our democracy are grave,” Higginbotham argues. For example, “confidence in our democratic institutions” such as the FBI will continue to erode due to the president’s constant criticisms.
Hilariously, the law professor also claims Trump’s continued presence in the office to which he was elected will “widen the gap between Americans of different political beliefs” — because of his “heated rhetoric.”
And what about the other recent presidential impeachment, that of Bill Clinton? Naturally, Higginbotham doesn’t believe Clinton’s crimes were on par with Trump’s alleged offenses: “It is likely that Clinton’s misconduct and his false testimony do not rise to the level of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.'”