I wrote the following article in February 2020; obviously, it was much more timely then. I delayed posting while I proofread, and as the weeks went by I thought about let it join my many pages of unposted posts. But more recently (as you’ll read in subsequent posts), I have become convinced of the importance of recording my thoughts in these turbulent times. So, timely or not, here’s what I wrote last winter about the impeachment process. I still think I was right.
Some musings about the impeachment and trial process.
First: It’s pretty clear that the conduct of POTUS 45 was corrupt. County commissioners, corporate buyers, and school district business managers have gone to jail for soliciting favors, and the forced investigation of a political rival is a favor. If the House–the only body that could bring charges–had failed to take action, every President in the future could do the same thing with impunity. Even if the Senate failed to do its job, at least the House did.
Second: The objections don’t hold water.
- “The House shouldn’t have impeached, because they knew the Senate wouldn’t convict.” It was clear from the outset that the Senate wouldn’t convict: the President’s party’s leader in the Senate said so. Some argue that under those circumstances, the House shouldn’t have bothered to bring charges. But the Constitution doesn’t suggest that the House should impeach only when conviction in the Senate is likely. The House’s responsibility is their responsibility, regardless of the probability of success.
- “House Democrats were seeking to reverse the decision the American people made in 2016.” Nonsense: a year with Mike Pence as President would hardly have been a reversal of 2016. An ancillary charge is that this was the gleeful fulfillment of Democrats’ long-range plan to impeach this President. It’s been pretty clear that Nancy Pelosi resisted pressure to impeach until this latest malfeasance came to light.
- “This action should not have been brought this close to the election.” The Constitution doesn’t set a deadline after which the President gets a pass.
- “The Democrats rushed to judgment and should have waited to bring better charges.” The worst thing about this argument is its cynicism. The House cannot simultaneously have impeached POTUS 45 too early and too late. If the House had waited, subpoenaed witnesses, and brought charges a month, or two, or three, later, Senate Republicans would have criticized them for the delay because the trial would have been even closer to the election.
- “This will work to the political advantage of the Republicans.” Maybe so: I see that Trump’s popularity, especially within his own party, is higher than ever. Everybody likes a winner. But again, the Constitution doesn’t say that legislators should do their job only when it will work to their advantage.
Finally: Now the American people get to decide who gets rewarded and who gets punished. And we, our children, and their children will live with the consequences.