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America’s Democrats have made a serious mistake by launching impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump. They are replaying the Republican impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998, a futile exercise that damaged Republicans, enhanced Clinton’s power and caused institutional damage as well.

The common factor of the two impeachments is that it was clear from the start that the U.S. Senate would never convict, which requires a two-thirds majority. The 45 Senate Democrats were not happy that Clinton perjured himself before a grand jury, obstructed justice and conducted an extramarital sexual affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. But they did not believe that this behavior was grounds for removal from office. The behavior was not sufficiently egregious to overcome their political loyalty to a president who remained popular with voters.

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