The House of Representatives on Wednesday impeached President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress,
In doing so, House members pushed back mightily at the mounting fear that in these perilous times “The best(among us) lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
It is still to be determined whether this historic and courageous stance by House Democrats is the revived pulse or the dying spasm of the Republic.
The president’s wrongdoing is overwhelming and indisputable.
He abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress’ investigation into his conduct. That is the conclusion reached by the House Judiciary Committee in its impeachment report.
Mr. Trump and his Republicans supporters presented no exculpatory evidence in his defense. Instead, they built a rebuttal based entirely on criticizing the impeachment process.
“It is not fair,” they said.
“It is too short, it seeks to overturn will of the people , it’s a reflection of the Democrats’ hatred of the president…”
Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, bemoaned the Republicans willful blindness to the president’s violations of the rule of law.
He particularly pushed back against their argument that impeaching the president was an attempt to overturn the 2016 elections.
“(The impeachment) remedy was put into the constitution for a reason,” Mr. Schiff reminded them.
“It is not an unconstitutional remedy. It is part of the constitution. The only way you can conceive of this remedy as being unconstitutional is if you believe, as the president does, that he is the state;
“That anything that opposes him opposes the state, (and) is by definition anti-constitutional. That, of course, is nonsense. But it is more than nonsense. It is dangerous nonsense.”
Yes. It is.
On one level, the Republicans craven rationalization of the president’s lawlessness is perhaps not that incredulous.
It was white women and men over 50 that propelled Mr. Trump to the presidency in 2016.
That group, which includes Congressional Republicans, whose average age is 57 in the House and 61 in Senate, remains his most adoring supporters.
In addition to being white and over 50, a majority of President Trump’s core supporters are non-college graduates.
The men and women serving in congress are among the highest educated in the country, which makes Republican law makers’ cult-like support for the president all the more confounding.
What we are witnessing in real time are the consequences of handing (and knowingly so) the stewardship of our democracy to an unscrupulous man.
He has used the power of the office to bend our institutions to fit his own image and to serve his personal ambitions.
The heads of the Justice and State Departments, for example, are at the moment showing him unwavering fealty.
He has complete control of the Republican Party, a party that by its anemic response to the president’s solicitation of Russian and Ukrainian help to his elections is allowing itself to be a conduit for foreign manipulation of our electoral process.
And all this in the face of F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray’s warning that Russia’s meddling in our elections is a continuing and “significant counterintelligence threat.”
It is wishful thinking to accept the consensus expectation of the president’s acquittal in the Senate on the belief that the 2020 elections will save the Republic.
Democratic lawmakers should fight as if the Senate trial is a must-win campaign. They should force Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to conduct a fair and impartial trial.
Because, even if Mr. Trump is defeated in 2020, nothing he has done over the past three years suggests he would consent to a peaceful transfer of power.
And should he decide to hold on to power after an election loss, who is to say he wouldn’t get away with it. He has gotten away with most of his lawlessness thus far.
We were told after his election in 2016 that his dangerous impulses would be checked by the honorable public servants around him. But as we have seen, the opposite happened. Many fell under his corrupting spell.
We should take heart, though, that his impeachment is due entirely to the incorruptibility and courage of a significant number of public servants.
That is why the Republic still has and will continue to have a fighting chance.
The president is impeached, but there are bigger battles yet to be won if we are to keep the Republic.