As the saying goes, if someone is busy digging their own grave, don’t take away their shovel. If the Democrats win back the House of Representatives in 2020, they do better in the long run if they don’t impeach the President. Impeaching Donald Trump might feel good, but even if it’s successful, which is far from a sure thing the end result would be replacing him with a different conservative Republican. Democrats would then go into 2020 with an enraged Republican electorate out for revenge and they’d be running against Mike Pence, who is basically a more competent, less overtly offensive, more socially conservative version of Trump.

Impeachment is not, after all, a legal process, it is a political one. It would require the support of the house and two-thirds of the Senate to remove Trump, and after that, he could walk away free and clear. In other words, Trump would not have been “convicted” of anything. Impeachment doesn’t mean that you go to jail. What impeachment does is say that ‘this person is so reprehensible that we’ve decided that we need to overturn the results of the election and remove him from office.’ While that might be true of the Donald, it does not play well with voters, either Republicans or moderate independents.

A better strategy would be to vow to protect the Mueller investigation, to hold hearings on every bit of alleged wrongdoing by Trump, his associates, his family or his appointees and to continue to bloody Trump and the Trump wing of the party. Off the top of my head, they could have hearings on election meddling and collusion, on campaign finance violations, on misappropriation and misuse of funds by cabinet, on embezzlement from private charities, on attacks on the First Amendment, on Trump’s profiteering from his role as President, on various individuals selling access to Trump, on unregistered foreign agents, on the politicization of security clearances, on economic damage caused by unnecessary trade wars, on racial discrimination in immigration policies, on the damage done by separating families from their children at the border etc. The list could go on for some time.

Realistically the 2020 Presidential race starts in early 2019, a few days after the winners of the mid-terms are sworn into office. There is more than enough material for Democrats to hold multiple simultaneous hearings on Trump and his associates from the day they take the House until people head to the polls in November of 2020.

Republicans would then face a choice between going into 2020 with an unpopular and politically bloodied candidate at the top of the ticket, challenging Trump themselves in what would be ugly and divisive primaries, or starting impeachment proceedings themselves and causing a bitter rift within their party. In either case, it leaves Republicans to wear the Trump presidency and the damage done and affords no opportunity to blame Democrats for any of it.

In 2019 and 2020 Democrats would be able to bring most of the Trump agenda to a grinding halt just by holding the House, then in 2020, they’d be in a very strong position to take the Senate and the White House as well. After that, there will be plenty of time to actually try Trump and those associated with him for their alleged crimes in actual courtrooms, where they can receive prison sentences and by then the chances of anyone being pardoned will be slim.