“Let the people vote” has become a rallying cry for Republican apologists during the impeachment. Their argument goes that what Trump did was bad (or maybe it was perfect, depending on the pundit), but it wasn’t impeachable. Since we’re close to an election anyway, Trump’s defenders say, we should just let the voters decide whether Trump should be fired for his transgressions rather than going through the impeachment process.
The Republican defense breaks down almost immediately because every last one of the Republicans making this argument, even the ones who say that he behaved poorly, are endorsing Trump for re-election. Put simply, Republicans believe that Trump abused his office and that voters should reward him with a second term. The Republican argument is simply the first step of a two-part plan in which President Trump escapes all consequences for his actions.
The reality is that Donald Trump is the most lawless president that most of us have ever seen, inclusive of Barack Obama with his pen and phone. The grounds for impeaching Trump do not begin and end with the whistleblower and the Ukrainian quid pro quo. President Trump has a long history of flouting the law and the Constitution that he swore an oath to uphold. The Mueller report’s allegations of obstruction painted a picture of a president who valued personal loyalty over adherence to the law. His use of national emergencies to subvert the will of Congress was a blatant attempt to escape the outcome of the 2018 midterm elections. The president’s frequent and repeated attempts to intimidate witnesses are evidence that the president is either ignorant of traditional legal norms or willfully disregards them entirely. Finally, the Ukraine whistleblower scandal represents a naked attempt to use his own version of a Deep State to take military aid earmarked for an ally at war with Russia and leverage it for his own personal benefit.
The common thread among these and other actions by President Trump is that they represent a pattern of abusing his position as president for personal gain. To ignore such a lengthy list of offenses and reward the offender with a second term would be to invite further abuse, not only from this president but from future executives of both parties. Given the flagrant and unprecedented abuses by Donald Trump, Congress had no real choice but to take action against the president. To do otherwise would be to accept a diminished constitutional role as the president usurps Congress’ authority. Of course, the House should impeach Donald Trump.
Impeachment does not overturn an election and it is not a coup. Donald Trump will still be president unless and until he is removed by the Senate. If President Trump is removed, Mike Pence will become president, not Hillary Clinton. It would be a poor excuse for a coup that left the president’s own party in power.
What impeachment does mean is that history will record that Americans found Donald Trump’s behavior to be inappropriate. Impeachment will be a black mark against Trump’s name that will stand as a warning to future presidents that such abuses of power will not be tolerated.
That President Trump is deserving of impeachment is underscored by the fact that Republicans have not offered exculpatory evidence or witnesses to refute the allegations of abuses of power. Instead, witnesses from the president’s inner circle have been ordered not to testify and the White House has not cooperated with subpoenas for White House emails and documents. Republican defenses have largely been limited to attacking the character and motives of witnesses, most of whom are Trump appointees, a tactic that does not dispute the facts of the case.
The Republicans in the Senate are unlikely to vote to convict and remove Donald Trump from office, however. And that’s okay. After the impeachment, after President Trump has been punished by the House, is the appropriate time for the people to vote.
After impeachment, voters will have their say on whether Democrats overstepped or whether their actions were within reason. Voters can decide whether President Trump’s behavior over the past four years was a series of abuses of power or whether they want four more years of Twitter diplomacy.
Over the next few weeks, I expect to see de facto proof that the Republicans who say that Trump’s actions were not impeachable were wrong. That proof will come when the House votes to impeach the president for his cumulative abuses of power, of which, the Ukraine whistleblower scandal is only the most recent and well-known example. President Trump should be punished for his abuses of power and impeachment is an appropriate reaction.
However, after impeachment, it will be up to the people to decide whether President Trump should be removed from office. If voters want to reject the politics of deceit and division, they should send a strong message at the polls next November and fire not only Donald Trump but his Republican enablers. Then they should keep sending messages in subsequent elections and hold other politicians accountable for their behavior as well.
Originally published on The Resurgent