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The Nation - September 27, 2019

"There is no reason the rising left in the Democratic party should cede popular anti-Trump sentiment to centrist Democrats and Never Trump Republicans. As Moyn notes, “Leftwing members of Congress such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders have long been in favour of impeaching Trump.” He could add Rashida Tlaib to the list, since she uttered the legendary war cry, “We’re going to impeach this motherfucker!”

Donald Trump will almost certainly be impeached in the next few months—but not everyone on the left is happy about it. The trigger for the impeachment is Trump’s pressuring of the Ukrainian government to uncover, or possibly fabricate, dirt on former vice president Joe Biden. It’s this origin that gives some on the left pause.

Ukrainegate is in many ways a reprise of Russiagate, as Trump himself made clear in his now-notorious July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president President Volodymyr Zelensky when the American leader referenced both Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server (alluding to a bizarre theory that it is being kept in Ukraine) and the Mueller report. Earlier, Trump had tried to squeeze information from the Ukrainian government that he thought would make it easier to pardon his convicted campaign manager Paul Manafort. Trump’s fixation on Ukraine seems to be payback for what he regards as the misdeeds of his enemies in Russiagate.

For skeptics on the left, both Russiagate and Ukrainegate serve the interests of a national security establishment seeking to punish Trump for his foreign policy heterodoxy. Centrist Democrats and Never Trump Republicans are united in their belief that Trump’s overtures to Vladimir Putin’s Russia represent a national security threat. The Trump administration has suffered internal strife from national security insiders trying to undermine Trump’s policy preferences in Eastern Europe. The whistle-blower in Ukrainegate is a CIA officer.

Given the genealogy of the two scandals, the question is whether to pursue impeachment against Trump on grounds that will strengthen the national security establishment. As Princeton historian Matt Karp tweeted, “Just in structural terms, the politics of impeachment bend—almost inevitably—toward an alliance between official progressives and Never Trump elites.”

Writing in The Guardian, Yale law professor Samuel Moyn provided a fleshed-out version of this argument. “For liberal and conservative centrists, inured to taking turns in power for decades, Trump’s rise in the Republican party and his success in beating Hillary Clinton within the appalling rules of the American game was the real affront,” Moyn argues. “Centrists simply want to return to the status quo interrupted by Trump, their reputations laundered by their courageous opposition to his mercurial reign, and their policies restored to credibility.” ...
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