Impeachment Party

San Francisco joins a handful of cities calling for a presidential impeachment, but does it mean anything coming from here?

People hold up signs during a rally held by San Francisco supervisors calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. (Photo by Jessica Christian)

There’s little question that San Francisco wants President Donald Trump out of the White House, but a progressive county in California demanding it probably holds little sway in the GOP-controlled Congress.

Still, Sup. Sandra Lee Fewer says a resolution calling to begin impeachment proceedings adds political pressure that could give fellow Democrats — such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — a sign that they have strong support from another major city. Richmond, Oakland, Alameda, Santa Cruz, and Los Angeles formally declared their opposition earlier this year.

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the motion, which Fewer brought forward for a vote. Six of Fewer’s board colleagues — out of 11 total supervisors — sponsored the resolution.

Around the same time, billionaire and environmentalist Tom Steyer launched a $10 million ad campaign also calling for impeachment. Steyer and the resolution-sponsoring supervisors Fewer, Hillary Ronen, Ahsha Safai, and Jeff Sheehy held a joint impeachment rally outside City Hall last week.

“We have to build a movement,” Sheehy said at the rally. “Our very lives are at stake.”

But why pass this now? It’s been nearly a year since the 2016 election signaled a massive political shift, and 10 months of opponents fighting a scandal-prone Trump in office.

Plus, a previous makeup of the Board of Supervisors passed a similar resolution in 2006, calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush. Fewer says she wasn’t around for those discussions, but that we are in an unprecedented time and that we must join the chorus of opposition.

“I don’t think it’s grandstanding. I think it’s doing something very constructive,” she tells SF Weekly. “We feel now there are already enough reasons for impeachment.”

The detailed 10-page resolution boils down to three: obstruction of justice surrounding the firing of former FBI Director James and pardoning of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio; violation of the Emoluments Clause and other charges of bribery, corruption, and fraud; and multiple instances of collusion with Russia during the presidential campaign.   

For the many, many other reasons outlined in the document, Fewer says the threat of nuclear war was the impetus for formally declaring opposition as a city, after months of her constituents requesting she do so. While the threat to San Franciscan’s healthcare, immigrants and other issues have been weighing heavily, she says her fellow supervisors may have been fearful of a less chaotic but damaging Mike Pence presidency. But she’s optimistic about that possibility.

“That type of bigotry we have fought before,” Fewer says. “We know how to fight that fight.”

As President Pence starts to sound more palatable, Monday brought criminal justice proceedings against Trump’s former campaign manager and aides. But Fewer says the path to impeachment requires strong political will stemming from public support, regardless of what special counsel Robert Mueller digs up.

Fewer acknowledges that there are many big “ifs” standing between now and even the potential for impeachment. If GOP leaders deem Trump’s historically low popularity rating too toxic to salvage, if Mueller’s exposes information too damning to weasel out of or deflect to corruption by Democrats, if Democrats even take the House or Senate in 2018, if they decide impeachment proceedings are viable — then, and only then, will Democrats have any say in the matter.

Trump opponents often look to the fall of President Richard Nixon as a guideline of what to expect, but hope for a faster resolution. In Nixon’s case, the DNC break-in happened June 17, 1972 and the House Judiciary Committee opened impeachment proceedings on May 9, 1974. Nixon resigned three months later.

Opponents, who have no choice but learn how to combat Trump now, have been on the case.

“It’s one thing to be resisting,” Fewer says. “It is another thing to be bold enough to have the moral courage.”

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