In passing two ambiguous articles of impeachment for non-crimes against President Donald Trump in a party-line vote, House Democrats have transformed the once-sacred method of last resort to deal with a criminal president into a political tool that will be used frequently for partisan purposes.
Now, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh is warning Democrats they might receive the same treatment from Republicans in the future.
Limbaugh joked on Wednesday that he was already drafting articles of impeachment for whoever the next Democratic president ends up being.
Trump also warned of as much when asked by a reporter at the White House last week about the articles of impeachment put forward by the Democratic committee leaders and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The president suggested Democrats would be paid back by Republicans in the future.
“And you’re trivializing impeachment,” Trump said. “And I tell you what: Someday there’ll be a Democrat president and there’ll be a Republican House, and I suspect they’re going to remember it. Because when you do — when you use impeachment for absolutely nothing, other than to try and get political gain.”
Speaking on his program Wednesday, before Trump was officially impeached, Limbaugh said, “Over the Christmas break, I’m gonna be sitting down with Republican leaders and drawing up articles of impeachment for the next Democrat president.”
“I don’t know who it is, and I don’t know when that’s gonna be, but we’re gonna start working on articles of impeachment for the next Democrat,” he added, according to a transcript on RushLimbaugh.com. “Well, that’s what the Democrats have done here. Believe me, that’s what they’ve done here. That’s all they’ve done.”
Later, Limbaugh ran through a litany of just some of the many so-called offenses committed by Trump over the past three years that caused some Democrats to clamor for impeachment.
That list served as a kind of “preview” of what Limbaugh might consider placing into his own articles of impeachment when a Democrat takes office — a thought experiment to prove his point on how ridiculous the whole thing was and how Democrats would come to regret the Pandora’s box they’ve now opened.
“I’ll give you a preview of my articles of impeachment, OK? Show you how easy this is to do,” he said. “The Democrats protested Trump’s victory. The Democrats tried to get the Electoral College to change their votes. Democrats demanded recounts illegally in several states. The Democrats objected to Trump’s election being certified. The Democrats spied on his transition.”
“They boycotted his inauguration. They started calling for his impeachment before he was even inaugurated. They falsely accused Trump of treason for colluding with the Russians. When they failed, they accused him of treason for colluding with Ukraine,” he continued.
“Despite all of this, Trump is still winning. And this just scratches the surface of what the Democrats have been trying to do to Trump since before he was even inaugurated,” Limbaugh added.
Limbaugh then fielded a call from a listener who wondered if Republicans would even have the spine to flip the script and summarily impeach a Democratic president for purely partisan purposes.
Both host and caller seemed to agree that regardless of whether Republicans actually would do so, the Democrats had probably already dismissed such retribution as unlikely, if it had even been considered a possibility at all.
However, it may not be as unlikely a proposition as some might assume.
The Washington Examiner reported the idea has already been floated by a few prominent Republicans in Congress who predicted Democrats would receive well-deserved “payback” in the future.
“I’m really saddened for my country,” Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert told the Examiner.
“I’m really concerned that the irreparable damage that now every president that has a different party in the House in control of the House will have to fight impeachment his whole term. It’s just a very, very dangerous precedent. There will definitely be some people wanting payback.”
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham added that he believed such payback would be a near certainty.
“Anything you do to us, we can do to you,” the senator said. “We have some people on our side just as crazy as people on their side.”
To be sure, nobody really wants to go down this path where the once-sacred constitutional remedy of impeachment has been cheapened to little more than an ordinary political cudgel. Still, the glass has been broken, the milk has been spilled and the genie is out of the bottle, to use whichever cliched metaphor seems most appropriate.
Democrats started this, and just like when former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked the “nuclear option” to do away with the filibuster on nominees, Republicans will accept the set precedent and use it for all it’s worth whenever they next have the opportunity.
Such is politics.
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