I’ve been on the record as calling for the impeachment of Donald Trump since May, when the Mueller Report revealed that the president repeatedly attempted to undermine the investigation into whether he collaborated with Russian agents to interfere with the 2016 election.
I’ve leveled harsh criticism towards
the Democratic establishment in the past, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
for playing coy in the fallout of that report by saying events “may take us to
a place that’s unavoidable, in terms of impeachment. But we’re not at that
In the spirit of the holidays, I
wish to say for the record that the House Democrats as a caucus deserve the
nation’s thanks. We now have articles of impeachment for abuse of power and
obstruction of Congress. The president’s efforts to impede legal review of
Russia’s interference in the 2016 election warranted impeachment, but his
corruption of foreign policy to enlist the Ukrainian president to interfere in
the 2020 election is even more egregious.
We seek responsive government, and
when elected representatives take the action we demand, it is our obligation as
citizens to stand behind them, even if, in Speaker Pelosi’s case, some of them
had to be dragged kicking and screaming to take responsibility. In a
functioning democracy, no one is obligated to love their representatives, but
they need positive reinforcement when they eventually come around to the right
The impeachment of President Trump
was never about a political calculation as to whether the outcome would enhance
the Democrats’ or Republicans’ prospects in 2020 election. We send our
representatives to Congress to do a job, whether it’s addressing gun violence
or climate change, or in this case, safeguarding democracy. Doing the job might
require an elected representative to lose her next election, and might even result
in the Democrats losing control of the chamber.
We already know that the House will
vote to impeach President Trump, and that the Senate will vote against removing
him. It doesn’t mean that the impeachment process has been a wasted effort.
It’s important to lay down a bright, red line to signal to future presidents
that it is unacceptable for the executive to manipulate the national security
and law enforcement apparatus of the nation for the purpose of destroying
political enemies. Down that path lies authoritarianism. (Admittedly, the
Republicans cheapened the brand in 1998 by impeaching President Clinton for
lying about sex.)
We have no way of knowing today whether
Trump will be re-elected to a second term, or which party will control the
Senate and the House after Nov. 3, 2020, or indeed if any of these outcomes
will be shaped by the impeachment process. Before the backbiting begins, credit
the House Democrats for taking a stand on principle, and recognize that
sometimes — no, oftentimes — doing the right thing comes at a cost. Save your
ire for those members of the House and Senate who make excuses for Trump’s
transgressions out of the craven need for political survival.
Today, we should salute Rep. Elissa
Slotkin, the Michigan Democrat who announced her decision to vote for
impeachment even knowing that many of her constituents are opposed to it, and
that doing so could very well cost her re-election. Slotkin, first elected in
2018 with the backing of the centrist Democratic Congressional Campaign
Committee, was one of the so-called “seven national security Democrats” elected
from swing districts, whose letter in late September gave Speaker Pelosi
political cover to initiate the impeachment inquiry. Considering the past sins
of the agency, it is an unsettling fact that Slotkin is a former CIA analyst,
not to mention that Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), a fellow signatory on the
September letter, is a retired operative. They may be less than pure, but they
happened to have been at the right place in the right time to make history.
There are those who say the House
Democrats are being hypocritical by pursuing impeachment for the transgression
of soliciting interference in a US election when the United States has a
history of tampering with other countries’ elections and toppling their governments.
These critics often argue that Trump should be opposed because of the degrading
language he uses against immigrants, Muslims, women and people of color, and
that he should be removed from office because of his white nationalist
policies. Those are not impeachable offenses, however.
But if Trump is allowed to evade
accountability for weaponizing foreign policy as a tool against political
enemies and to flout congressional oversight, lawmakers’ protestations on
matters of importance to their constituents will be reduced to political
This is our moment of national
clarity. Republicans in both chambers will, sadly, vote against impeachment. Where
do the people stand?
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