Impeachment: pros and cons


Democrats have finally started the impeachment process. It’s about time.

Pelosi’s move was hardly a rush to judgment. Trump’s behavior made her action unavoidable. Congress has a job to do and must do it. There should be no second-guessing this — failure to act would have been dereliction of duty. Trump’s flagrant violations of law, precedent and his oath to uphold the constitution forced the issue. It wasn’t really a choice.

The saddest thing is that within days, Trump again gave his sordid game away when he said that impeachment “would be a great thing for him.” That’s the whole problem with Trump. In his view, everything is about his own personal advantage — what is good for the country doesn’t really matter. The truth is impeachment is a disaster for our republic. It is a sign that one of our highest officials has completely gone off the rails. The voters chose poorly.

This latest whistler-blower complaint cannot be ignored. It differs from earlier issues in several important ways:

  1. Trump is no longer a candidate but has the full powers of the presidency.
  2. It is not his staff or underlings who were extorting favors from foreign powers, but the president himself.
  3. In the reported phone call, Trump is clearly extorting foreign help against a personal political rival in order to use it in the upcoming election.
  4. He is attempting to use military aid, legally appropriated by congress for an ally, as leverage for that personal help.
  5. His own White House staff was so concerned that they almost immediately moved to hide the incriminating records on a highly classified computer system reserved for top level secrets.
  6. AG Barr, Mike Pompeo, Rudy Giuliani and probably VP Pence are all neck deep in this new mess.
  7. Trump then threatened the whistle-blower with capital punishment.

It has gotten worse since then. Has the emergence of tyranny ever been more obvious?

The edited “memo” released by the White House was so damning that even before the testimony of the DNI (which confirmed the credibility and good faith of the whistleblower’s actions) and the full whistleblower report (even more damning), there was a huge surge in favor of impeachment. While Trump defenders argue that the whistleblower’s information was secondhand, independent reporting has confirmed its accuracy in every regard.

The typical GOP line has been that it would be a huge mistake for Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings. I have never believed that. It is an argument intended to intimidate Democrats into doing nothing. In fact, since Speaker Pelosi announced the start of impeachment, reliable polls have shown a large shift in favor of impeachment.

When Mueller began his investigation, the GOP still controlled the House. That allowed them to stonewall, obstruct and derail the Mueller probe in countless ways. The midterm elections changed all that. Now the only thing that stands in the way of impeachment is the Senate GOP. If the House votes to impeach, the Senate may still side with Trump in spite of the facts. If they do, the Democrats will not be responsible for that abject failure of character and courage. The fault will rest solely with the GOP.

The “high crimes and misdemeanors” at issue are clear and admitted by Trump himself. The obstruction of justice is in clear view. The danger to our constitution and national security are obvious, the remedy (impeachment), is required by the constitution. The only alternative to impeachment is to do nothing — and to lose our democracy to further erosion by a corrupt administration that has already broken its oath to defend it. Left unpunished, Trump will only get worse. Trumpism is more than a cancer on the presidency, it is a cancer on the whole country.

What we see today is a GOP cult of personality centered around a con man. If the Senate puts off impeachment, the GOP will go into the 2020 presidential election (and history) with that burden on them. Why anyone would defend Trump at this point is a complete mystery. The House Democrats are doing their job. The questions are will the GOP Senate do theirs, and will voters wise up?

 

Gilbert Schramm is a resident of Newport.

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