Some House Democrats have begun flirting with the idea of issuing a censure against President Donald Trump as a possible alternative to impeachment. A censure resolution is effectively a congressional slap on the wrist, a public statement by the House of Representatives that the president has acted in a manner that is wrong and unsuited to someone in the Oval Office.

As some House Democrats have ramped up their cries for the president’s impeachment, more moderate representatives have begun to look for a way to appease this impassioned faction without beginning an impeachment trial that will most likely end in disaster for the Democrats. To House leaders such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), a censure would allow her to throw a bone to the members of her party eager for blood and buy herself more time to find a way to keep control of her increasingly dissatisfied party.

Democrats have been calling for a presidential censure for years, beginning with the Congressional Black Caucus’ introduction of the measure after Trump’s 2017 defense of the white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia. More recently, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tennesse), suggested the idea of censure in March of this year after the release of Robert S. Mueller III‘s report on Russian electoral interference. While Pelosi hasn’t actively supported the idea of censure, she has stated that  “Nothing is off the table.” While she has repeatedly made clear that, actually, impeachment is currently off the table, censure could be the next best thing for her.

However, some Democrats worry that censuring the president too early could also have negative effects similar to that of impeaching the president too early. Former-Rep. Steve Israel (D-New York) cautioned Democrats that censure may impact the legitimacy of the many investigations that House committees are currently conducting into the president, saying, “If you pass a censure resolution, I suppose an argument could be made that you no longer need these investigations because you’ve already censured the guy.” Furthermore, former-Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-North Dakota) warned the House that censuring Trump “prematurely looks more like: ‘We really, really don’t like you.’ And a statement like that is really of no consequence.”

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