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Be careful what you wish for: Impeach Trump and you get Pence

Earl Ofari Hutchinson | 1/5/2017, 6 a.m.

Put this in the category of be careful what you wish for. The instant that Trump won the White House, the chatter about impeaching him has been nonstop. The reasons many legal scholars, ethics experts and political analysts give boil down to this. He has business dealings with foreign governments, most notably Russia, his family management arrangement still presents business conflicts, his possible violation of the Emoluments Clause, which prohibits presidents from buying influence with federal officials or receiving special treatment, and influence peddling and gift taking from foreign governments. These are all sticky points that Trump hasn’t done much to address.

But even if he doesn’t, the move to impeach is a congressional call, and the chance of a GOP-controlled House and Senate making that call is virtually nil at this point. However, Trump’s business entanglements could continue to run afoul of federal law about money, gifts and influence with foreign entities. This could plop Trump on the congressional hot seat. But it’s a seat that would be disastrous. Because with Trump out, you get Vice President Mike Pence. Trump is bumptious, obnoxious and clownish. Pence is the prototypical ultra conservative in the gray flannel suit. He is business-like, efficient and knows how to run a political office. Trump will lean on him hard to do the behind the scenes, in the trenches work with Congress to get his initiatives through.

This will present no problem for Pence. He knows Congress, and the GOP establishment is comfortable with him. But Pence has his own agenda. It’s an agenda that’s been honed over time as an arch-conservative Indiana governor and congressperson. Civil liberties, civil rights, and education and environmental groups know him, too. They consistently gave him straight Fs on their report cards for elected officials. He got straight As on every conservative and ultra-conservative report card, including, unsurprisingly, the report card of the National Rifle Association.

The checklist of Pence positions on the issues reads like a what’s what of the Heritage Foundation and ultra-conservative think tank positions. His stance on abortion and same sex marriage is well-known. He’s rabidly against both, and every time he’s had the chance to vote on the issues or propose initiatives when he was Indiana governor, such as defunding Planned Parenthood and forcing most of its clinics to close or signing the most abortion-restrictive regulation in the nation, banning abortion even in cases where the fetus has a “genetic abnormality to do away with both, he’s done it with gusto. His fondest wish lies in his words, “I long for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history.”

While Trump talks about building a wall on the border, Pence would figure out a way to get the money and the congressional support to do it. He’s been at the anti-immigrant bash game a lot longer than Trump. In 2006 he was calling for guest workers to self-deport, and slammed the door on the relocation of Muslim refugees in his state from Syria and other war torn countries.