He Done It

Perhaps, just perhaps, the Republicans might get around to acknowledging the obvious: President Trump is guilty of the main accusation lodged against him. He attempted to get the government of Ukraine to investigate, or at least announce that it intended to investigate, the activities of the Biden clan for the purpose of damaging the presidential prospects of his potential rival, Joe Biden.  Congressional Democrats argue that this is not only conclusively proven, but that it constitutes an impeachable offense. Consequently they fully intend to impeach him, hopefully, in their view, before Christmas. 

Let’s unpack this. No one this side of sanity truly believes that Trump didn’t or wouldn’t use the power of his office for his own political benefit. Of course he would and he has. Just like pretty much every President has. The relevant question is not whether or not policy helps or hinders the President’s political position. The relevant question is whether or not he has deliberately sacrificed the interests of the United States to further his own interests in a demonstrable manner.

It has yet to be shown that Trump deliberately acted in a way that sacrificed U.S. interests so as to further his own political interests. Note the word deliberately. Certain actions a President may take, especially with respect to foreign policy, may harm U.S. interests; but a policy decision that helps the Administration politically even though it is a strategic error, or results from miscalculation, does not in itself constitute an impeachable offense. 

The subsidiary argument, that Congress appropriated the money and the President abused his office by threatening to withhold the funds simply lacks the gravitas necessary to justify the President’s removal from office, although it is ample reason for the exercise of Congressional oversight. We can, for example, turn to how the Obama Administration lied to the Federal Courts as it sough to avoid enforcing immigration law with respect to the “Dreamers”. (See for instance this article published by the CATO Institution: https://www.cato.org/blog/judge-sanctions-obama-lawyers-ethical-violations-wishes-he-could-disbar-them)

It seems clear that the motivations of the players in the impeachment inquiry are simply self-serving rather than principled. Most Democrats are from districts where their constituents (a) loathe Trump and (b) for that reason would like to see him removed from office. Republicans are from districts whose constituents are (a) overwhelmingly opposed to removal by impeachment and conviction and (b) are terrified of being “primaried” were they to support impeachment. Moreover, since the Senate majority is Republican the chances of a 2/3rds super-majority voting to remove Mr. Trump from office are exceedingly slim. 

Finally and most importantly, it would be naive in the extreme to believe that any of these people are acting out of anything other than ideological and political self-interest, particularly given the Democrats’ lunge to the left. They still do not accept that they lost in 2016, and are on a mission to delegitimize the result. The Republicans on the other hand are not lunging in any direction. They more closely resemble a bunch of 12 year olds playing soccer with everybody chasing the ball wherever it goes. 

So where does that leave us? With a national election 11 months away, it makes little sense to remove Trump by impeachment. The voters will have their say in a relatively short period of time. And Trump’s behavior is more than fair game. That’s the way it should be in a democracy.  


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