To impeach or not to impeach? That’s the question, Valley residents answer

  • Malcolm Reyes, 20, of Amherst, left, and Austin Shea, 22, of Springfield, express their support for impeachment Thursday on Main Street in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tina Addison, who teaches a watercolor class at the South Hadley Senior Center, doesn’t like the idea of impeachment, but doesn’t see any other choice regarding Trump. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS 

  • James Fleming of Holyoke, getting lunch Thursday at the South Hadley Senior Center, says he didn’t vote for Trump but thinks the impeachment inquiry is “a waste of time.” STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS 

  • Tina Addison, who teaches a watercolor class at the South Hadley Senior Center, shares her views about the possibility of President Donald Trump being impeached, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS 

  • Mark Haley of Granby doesn’t support the president, but also doesn’t think Trump would be convicted by the Senate. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS 

  • Don Anderson of Belchertown calls the impeachment inquiry “a big show” while having breakfast at the Egg & I in South Hadley and says he plans to vote for Trump again next year. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS 

Staff Writer
Published: 9/28/2019 2:01:22 PM

NORTHAMPTON — It’s a possibility that has been hashed out in both our nation’s highest offices and during family dinner conversations across the country — and now the wheels are turning. This week, House Democrats opened a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, announced Tuesday the start of a process that has been successful against a U.S. president only twice before in history: President Bill Clinton and President Andrew Johnson were both impeached by the House, though neither was convicted in the Senate.

The catalyst this time? A whistleblower complaint accusing President Trump of seeking to enlist the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to aid in investigating the family of a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

But the country is hardly close to removing the president — an even rarer outcome that has never happened in the history of the United States, said Adam Hilton, assistant professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College.

“We may never get there,” Hilton said of removing Trump from office. “It could just be that Pelosi made a formal change to the work that six different committees were already working on. There isn’t much of a substantive change.”

Since Democrats took control of the House in 2018, six committees have been investigating Trump; now, they are tasked with putting together cases for potential articles of impeachment.

Hilton found it interesting that it took the Ukraine revelations to move House Democrats to completely “break this dam” of reticence to begin an impeachment process.

“Articles of impeachment for a president violating the emoluments clause appears very pedantic,” he said of criticism over Trump’s hand in his private business affairs. “But on issues of national security or tampering of an upcoming election, that’s a little different.”

If House Democrats do draft articles of impeachment against Trump, a majority of the chamber would need to vote to accept those articles and impeach the president — an action similar to an indictment. The president would then go on trial in the Senate, where a two-thirds majority would be needed to convict the president and remove him from office.

Hilton said it’s too early to know if Trump will be scarred by the inquiry — but that the president may use it to his advantage.

“Trump thrives when he can play up that Washington is striking back at him,” he said. “There’s a way you can see this playing into his hand.”

It’s possible that House Democrats won’t ever bring articles of impeachment to the House, Hilton said. He also cast doubt on whether the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, would take up impeachment in the first place. And even if they did, he said, it would likely be because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, knows the body would vote to acquit Trump of any wrongdoing.

“Mitch McConnell could still undergo the whole trial and would have a media event for the next possibly several months,” Hilton said. “It would be quite a circus.”

A range of reactions

The Pioneer Valley is a hotbed of political engagement and activism, so what do people around Hampshire County have to say about the potential impeachment of President Trump?

In between bites of buttered toast Friday morning at Egg & I Restaurant in South Hadley, Don Anderson, 75, of Belchertown, said House Democrats were trying to “condemn” Trump without reason to gain more support.

“Look at what he’s done — unemployment is down to almost nothing, more money in your pocket because of taxes,” he said. The inquiry, he said, is “just a big show.”

Anderson doesn’t believe Trump’s comments to the leader of Ukraine constitute an impeachable offense. He voted for the president in 2016 and says he plans on doing the same in 2020, when he thinks Trump will win reelection.

“Everyone is going to attack him, but his policies are all there,” he said.

Huddled under the awning outside of Thornes Marketplace in Northampton on a rainy afternoon, Malcolm Reyes, 20, Austin Shea, 22, and Tyler Jerome, 28, were of a much different mindset.

“I think it’s important to realize the rest of his group would not go away,” Reyes said of Republicans supportive of Trump. “They would still be there, they would still be in power.”

Jerome, a construction worker in the solar industry, said he too would support impeachment if there were evidence that proved the president guilty of a crime.

He added said the tariffs Trump put on Chinese steel imports had hurt the solar industry, as the steel is used to make panels.

“Now you’re affecting the working class, and in my opinion, I’m going to vote in my interest — that’s not in my interest,” Jerome said.

“In terms of impeachment, the whole Ukraine thing … I don’t know if that’s enough for this instance, but there’s been plenty of things to be like, ‘Yeah, he should go,’” he said. “Like, pick something.”

Mark Haley was sitting outside of his home in Granby on Thursday afternoon and said he thought the Senate would not vote to convict the president. But if Congress finds Trump guilty of an impeachable offense, Haley, who does not support the president, said he would be in favor of that.

“You can’t just impeach the guy because he’s an a–hole,” Haley said.

Over coffee at the South Hadley Senior Center, James Fleming, 76, of Holyoke, said he thinks Congress should be working to lower the budget deficit instead of trying to impeach Trump.

“It’s a waste of time, it’s a vendetta,” Fleming said. “They just want to make trouble, and off they go.”

A registered Republican who did not vote for Trump, Fleming said he supports “some of the stuff” Trump has done in terms of the economy but says the president often “ruins it by shooting his mouth off.”

Tina Addison teaches watercolor painting at the South Hadley Senior Center and said that while she does not like the idea of impeaching any president, she believes Trump’s conduct warrants him to be removed from office.

“I think it’s an ugly policy to have to go to, but I think our hands are tied,” Addison said. “We don’t have any other choice.”

Michael Connors can be reached at

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