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Ray LaHood: Division Will Be Biggest End Result of House Impeachment

Ray LaHood at Bradley University's Hayden-Clark Alumni Center
Tim Shelley / WCBU
Ray LaHood at Bradley University's Hayden-Clark Alumni Center

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said further polarization is the most likely result to come out of impeachment proceedings against President Trump. Even if the House moves against the president, LaHood doesn't believe Trump will be removed through the impeachment process.

"There is no way that Mitch McConnell will ever allow Trump to be convicted. And it is almost impossible to get to 67 votes in the Senate, given that the votes are not there," LaHood said.

The former Republican congressman from Peoria presided over the Clinton impeachment hearings in the 1990s. He said what's happening on Capitol Hill now is giving him deja vu, referencing the movie "Groundhog Day."

LaHood said the defense used now by some that Trump's actions do not rise to the level of the impeachable "high crimes and misdemeanors" outlined in the Constitution is the same argument used by Democrats to defend President Clinton twenty years ago during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

In the meantime, he expects impeachment to suck the oxygen out of any legislative efforts on Capitol Hill.

"Absolutely nothing will happen in Congress for a whole year, because Congress will be so divided. There'll be no immigration reform, no transportation bill, no fixing our fiscal system, no healthcare reform. There'll be nothing," he said.

He said it will ultimately be up to voters next year to decide on whether the president stays in office.

LaHood said impeachment is an inherently political decision. And he warned that the process may backfire on Democrats in 2020, alluding to Republicans losing House seats in the 1998 midterms in the midst of the Clinton impeachment. That marked the first time an second-term incumbent president's party picked up seats in the House since 1822.

LaHood spoke Monday at a forum discussing the book Leading the Republican House Minority: The Congressional Career of Robert H. Michel at Bradley University.

One of the co-editors of the book, California State University political science professor Sean Q Kelly, disagreed.

He said decisions like Trump's unilateral decision to pull back support from the Kurds in northern Syria as Turkey threatens an invasion may give Republicans pause and make them consider something "more fundamental" is going on than the Russia and Ukraine scandals.

Copyright 2021 WCBU. To see more, visit WCBU.

Tim Shelley is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.