Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina appeared confused in an interview with CNN discussing President Donald Trump’s impending impeachment. She said it is “vital” that Trump is impeached by the House of Representatives, but she did not call for his removal from office. In fact, she even admitted she might vote for Trump again in 2020.
“I think he is going to be impeached and I think he won’t be removed from office,” Fiorina said in an interview published Monday. “I think it is vital that he be impeached. Whether removed this close to an election I don’t know, but I think the conduct is impeachable.” Later on, she said she might vote for Trump depending on whom the Democrats nominate to face him in November.
Fiorina’s prediction is extremely likely to come true. Impeachment involves two steps: the House of Representatives passes articles of impeachment in something like a grand jury indictment, and the Senate votes to approve the articles and remove the president or to reject the articles and acquit him. Since Democrats hold the majority in the House, they are likely to impeach him. Since Republicans hold the majority in the Senate, it is highly unlikely that more than 67 senators will vote to remove Trump.
While this is the most likely outcome, it is utterly bizarre that Fiorina would effectively endorse it. Americans should support the entire process of impeachment or they should oppose it. This idea of supporting half of the process and opposing the other half is ridiculous.
Fiorina is right to warn that impeaching Trump less than a year before the American people decide his fate at the polls is dangerous for America’s representative system. Yet if she truly believes Trump’s conduct was impeachable, she should support impeachment and removal — which is the point of impeachment. If the House of Representatives merely wished to issue a strong rebuke against Trump, representatives should have drawn up a declaration of censure. Republicans who oppose impeachment may have signed on to that.
Yet the former HP CEO acknowledged that the behavior she considers impeachable does not ignite voters’ passions.
“What I regret is that the principles that are being debated in this impeachment trial — separation of powers, abuse of power, obstruction of Congress — those principles are not as immediate or intense as partisanship or people’s belief that the policies that I care about impact me personally,” Fiorina explained. As an example, she referenced pro-life voters who “feel disrespected by the Democratic Party” and are unlikely to reject Trump.
This concession is revealing. Many Republicans oppose impeaching Trump even though they think his call with the president of Ukraine may have involved some kind of misconduct. They do not believe it rises to the level of an impeachable offense. Furthermore, Democrats have been itching to impeach Trump since before he was even inaugurated. Even if the Ukraine call is a scandal, Democrats have seized on it as a convenient excuse to go for the jugular.
Fiorina attacked Republicans as more loyal to President Trump than to their conservative principles.
As for the Republican Party, she said, “Loyalty to Trump is what it stands for.”
“The Republican Party was the party of Abraham Lincoln,” Fiorina explained. She laid out three principles the party should stand for: “Everyone has potential and we should not be defined by our circumstances, people closest to the problem know best how to solve it, and … power concentrated is power abused, always. It doesn’t matter how well-intended the holder of power is.”
“I don’t know that the Republican Party believes in those things anymore,” she said.
Yet Fiorina refused to say whether or not she would leave the party behind. She admitted that she voted for Trump in 2016, but said she has been “very disappointed.”
“I felt that Hillary Clinton was also corrupt,” the former CEO explained. As for voting Trump in 2020, “it depends on who the Democrats put up.”
When it comes to applying Fiorina’s stated principles, Trump would be a far better option than almost any of the Democrats running. The president is far from perfect — he has yet to address the burgeoning federal deficits and debt, he has yet to repeal Obamacare, his off-the-cuff remarks and his frequent visits to his own properties are troubling.
I did not vote for Trump in 2016, but I have come to appreciate him. I do not believe he has committed any impeachable offenses, and I think those who call for his impeachment over Ukraine are indulging in partisanship over substance.
So why did Fiorina speak out like this? Many Republicans are looking to a post-Trump future for the GOP. If Trump does lose in 2020, it would be wiser to learn from his successes rather than reject him entirely. To some degree, Fiorina is hedging her bets. She knows a full-throated denunciation of Trump and the GOP would hurt her chances to have an impact later on, but she likely carries some resentment from the bloody 2016 primary.
She may have been hedging her bets, but these remarks will likely do more harm than good. Opponents of impeachment are angry and those who support impeachment are scratching their heads about Fiorina’s willingness to vote for Trump next year.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.