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Impeach or Censure? House Democrat Gives Mixed Signals on Support as Democratic Tensions Grow

Impeach or Censure? House Democrat Gives Mixed Signals on Support as Democratic Tensions Grow

Talk of censuring President Trump instead of impeaching him has grown over the last several days after the Adam Schiff-led public hearings led to a dramatic drop in support for impeachment among independents.

Between the GOP ad blitz underway in competitive House districts and numerous polls released over the last month, vulnerable House Democrats are in full panic mode as they head home to their districts for the Thanksgiving holiday.

While Republican opposition and Democrat support for impeachment remains largely unchanged, support from independents for impeachment dropped dramatically as television stations carried the hearings. Now media reports have come out about some moderate Democrats getting “cold feet” over the entire process.

Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI-14) is not a moderate Democrat. Yet on Sunday, she stated during an interview with podcaster Charlie LeDuff that she switched gears on impeachment. Now she prefers instead to censure President Trump while ultimately allowing voters to decide his fate at the ballot box next year:

Michigan Democratic Rep. Brenda Lawrence, a prominent supporter of Kamala Harris who has previously supported the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, has abruptly announced that she no longer saw any “value” in the process and called for her fellow Democrats to throw their support behind a symbolic censure resolution.

“We are so close to an election,” Lawrence said Sunday on a Michigan radio program. “I will tell you, sitting here knowing how divided this country is, I don’t see the value of taking him out of office. But I do see the value of putting down a marker saying his behavior is not acceptable.”

Listen to her remarks on censure vs. impeachment below:

As Steve Guest noted in his tweet, Lawrence is not one of those Democrats in a swing district. In all three House races she’s been in starting in 2014, she’s handily won her elections by large margins. Her district is also right next door to Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s 13th district. The two have a warmly collegial working relationship in Washington, D.C.

So Lawrence’s public break with her previous position on impeaching Trump is a very significant development, especially considering it came after days of breathless reports about panicked moderate Democrats that circulated all over social media.

It was almost as though she confirmed those concerns out loud without mentioning by name the list of moderate House Democrats whose hands are sweating over the possibility of having to go on record one way or the other with their decision on down the line.

Two days later, however, Lawrence has, ahem, clarified her position. Now she says she still supports impeachment but also has concerns about how things will play out in the Senate:

In a written statement to Metro Times, Lawrence said she still supports impeaching Trump but censure may be a more viable option because of Republicans’ opposition to impeachment.

“I was an early supporter for impeachment in 2017,” Lawrence says. “The House Intelligence Committee followed a very thorough process in holding hearings these past two weeks. The information they revealed confirmed that this President has abused the power of his office, therefore I continue to support impeachment.

“However, I am very concerned about Senate Republicans and the fact that they would find this behavior by the President acceptable.”

Lawrence’s mixed signals have led to a lot of speculation that someone in the House Democratic leadership got to her:

This astute question was also posted to the congresswoman, but she didn’t respond:

Regardless of Lawrence’s attempt at walking a fine line between impeachment and censure, the cat’s out of the bag now. The Hill reported over the weekend that some Senate Republicans suggested Pelosi might put censure on the table since the first round of public hearings didn’t go the way Democrats wanted them to.

Lawrence’s original remarks were made one day after that report was published.

On top of the congresswoman’s waffling statements and the speculation in media reports about the censure option, the Chicago Tribune published an editorial Monday expressing their support for it, too:

Our wariness of impeachment is its political construction. The constitutional standard — treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors — isn’t precisely measurable. Each time that standard is invoked, Congress must define what it means by answering this question: Has the president’s action threatened the sanctity of American governance?


In our view, Trump’s Ukraine misdeeds are a serious abuse of his office. But they do not meet those tests of an impeachable offense.


Censure does something else important. It ensures that final judgment of Trump’s misdeeds remains where it should be, with the American people on Election Day 2020. That is barely 11 months hence. At that time, voters will have the opportunity to expel him.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) will take the reins in the public hearings next week. If they go as badly as the first round did, look for vulnerable incumbent Democrats to stop being silent and start going on the record about their concerns.

Because although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has claimed it doesn’t matter if Democrats lose the House over the impeachment issue, you better believe the Democrats who are actually fighting to keep those Congressional seats think otherwise.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —


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Censure? If one can judge a man’s character by the character of his enemies, Trump is a Saint.

UnCivilServant | November 27, 2019 at 9:56 am

Surprise us, impeach Schiff and Waters.

    Members of congress can’t be impeached.

      The President can’t be censured by Congress in any meaningful legal or Constitutional sense. All Congress can do is pass something and call it “censure”, but it has all the legal value as a resolution declaring next week “National Dill Pickle Topped with Whipped Cream Week”.

      Since 11/08/16 Democrat’s have been promising that Trump would be removed (reason TBD later, maybe). I don’t think a goofy, meaningless “censure” resolution will slake their genocidal base’s thirst for blood.

        He can be censured by the House, and it has exactly the same meaning as when the House censures anyone else. In 1793 Thomas Jefferson drafted a series of resolutions censuring Alexander Hamilton; the House voted against these resolutions, but this established the precedent that the House could censure people. The Senate censured Jackson, and the House censured Tyler and Buchanan. More recently the House has censured Charlie Rangel, Daniel Crane, and Gerry Studds. Did those things mean nothing to you? In that case a censure of Trump will also mean nothing to you. But for those who paid attention to those censures, a censure of Trump… will still not mean much since the process that will have produced it was so corrupt.

          artichoke in reply to Milhouse. | November 28, 2019 at 6:51 pm

          Within a body, censure can have certain meanings. I believe that in either the House or the Senate, a censured member has to come into the well and have their sins read before them and to express contrition and repentance. On camera of course.

          No House or Senate rules apply to the President, and he’ll just get him throwing some well placed barbs back instead.

We the voters will “impeach” all these demoncrats at the ballot box.

    dunce1239 in reply to datapath. | November 27, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    I am certain she listens to her constituents and heard long before the polls showing 30+% support for Trump that being all in on impeachment that was going to fail did not make political sense.

Using the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act which they insisted be part of the Compromise of 1850 (September, 1850), the Democrats have re-captured Brenda Lawrence and brought her back to the plantation where she is once again singing the Necessity of Impeachment.

    alaskabob in reply to pfg. | November 27, 2019 at 11:52 am

    “Gimme that old time derision…
    It was good enough for Lenin
    It was good enough for Stalin
    It’s good enough for Bernie
    It’s good enough for me
    Gimme that old time derision…

      Milhouse in reply to alaskabob. | November 27, 2019 at 3:37 pm

      We will mock Schiff and Pelosi
      Their relationship’s not cozy
      His committee’s far too nosy
      And that’s dumb enough for me.

By all means, either is fine with us. Neither mean squat; well aside from giving the public an excellent view of the nothingness that the US House of Representatives have accomplished the past two years. But again, do either. Whichever suits your fancy. Our responses to your decision will occur next November.

Let us never forget and never stop repeating; “President Trump has done absolutely nothing wrong. Not even in the slightest has President Trump done something improper with Ukraine or anywhere else” The democrats and the media are trying to make something out of NOTHING solely because they are just dirty sick political hacks who hate this country and hate Trump because he loves this country.

thalesofmiletus | November 27, 2019 at 11:09 am

Good to see the Democrats putting Lawrence back on the plantation.

Nah, she is back on the impeachment bus.

I think they’ll go for censure. Impeachment carries many risks:

1. The Senate will subpoena the witnesses that Shiff vetoed, so the other side of the stories will come out. They will also ask the questions that Shiff kept cutting off. The collusion between Ciaramella and the Shiff staffers will be exposed.

2. The Senate will look into the Bidens. If there really was corruption in Ukraine involving US politicians, then Trump was doing his duty to recommend that they investigate the corruption. Also, since Sleepy Joe might be their nominee, the Dems won’t want the Senate to expose any dirt in public.

3. The Senate trial will pull a bunch of the Dem wanna-bees off the campaign trail at a crucial time in the primary season. The DNC will put pressure on their House members to avoid this.

4. There is no way that the Senate will vote to remove Trump, so the Dems will be seen as a do-nothing party. Why should the Dems impeach Trump and take all these risks, and end up with nothing accomplished except egg on your face?

The Dems can salvage as much political advantage as they can, while appeasing their base of Trump-haters, by a vote to censure Trump. Censure means nothing (except that they don’t like him), but it allows them a face-saving way to avoid the real political risks of impeachment.

    The MSM/DNC axis wants Trump removed, not a meaningless “censure” resolution. That, and the fact that Democrats have galaxy-sized egos capable only of doubling down on deranged, will doom the censure efforts.

They’ve already lost face. The only reason for censure over impeachment is to protect Shiff and Biden.

A great question for these dem’s would be “would you vote impeach a democrat for the same?” Republican’s are usually more than happy to throw other Republicans under bbn the bus if there is a hint of a transgression so, if there were really any substance to the “charges” against Trump, repubs would already be calling for his ouster. Since they are not, its another reliable indicator of how weak the dem’s impeachment case is.

How could you have been in firm support of impeachment in 2017 when the so called “impeachable offense” didn’t occur until July 2019?

The impeachable offense occurred on Nov-8-2016. Everything else is irrelevant.

Censure does something else important. It ensures that final judgment of Trump’s misdeeds remains where it should be, with the American people on Election Day 2020. . . . At that time, voters will have the opportunity to expel him.

The Tribune certainly has itself all tangled up in its own underwear. Somebody’s trying to pretend that the last three years of Democratic hysteria didn’t add up to a total failure. The voters will pass judgment on all officeholders in 2020. Censure will have nothing to do with it.

Censure?? For what?