President Donald Trump (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
If you listen to the debate in Congress, you’d think according to Republicans we have the ‘perfect’ president and what the Judiciary Committee is doing is anti-American. Let us take a look at what is American to its core — our Constitution.
It is the Constitution that gives Congress the authority to impeach and remove “The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States” upon a determination that such officers have engaged in treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. It is also made clear in the Constitution that, “The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the ‘sole’ Power of Impeachment.” Sole power means they don’t have to go to the courts to mandate the president turn over requested papers and other information. If they subpoena him and others in his administration and the president obstructs their work by telling those individuals they don’t have to recognize the subpoenas Congress has every right to decide to impeach him without going to the courts as the mediator as some Republicans and even some talking heads on the cable networks are suggesting.
It is really not a stretch for anyone with a brain to understand how Donald J. Trump committed what are easily defined as high crimes and misdemeanors. When he was sworn in as president on Jan. 20, 2017, he put his hand on a Bible and swore to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.” He has clearly failed to do that. By obstructing the work of Congress and not answering to any subpoenas he has not protected the Constitution. By abusing his powers as president and trying to bribe a foreign government to do him a personal favor while withholding funds approved by Congress and important to the defense of not only our ally Ukraine but to the United States as well he is not preserving, protecting or defending the Constitution.
Listening to Republicans defend Trump was an incredible experience and often played like a sick comedy act. First, those like Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Doug Collins (R-Ga.) thought if they yelled more, then their lies would seem like the truth. Then there was Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) who every time he opens his mouth reinforces his reputation as the dumbest member of Congress. Then there is Rep. Matt Goetz (R-Fla.) who challenges Gohmert for that title but is also the vilest and nastiest member of Congress. They, along with Trump, disparaged government officials and civil servants who in most cases were hired by Trump. They denigrated veterans who had been decorated for valor defending the country for President Bone-spurs who used a phony excuse to get out of serving.
Now the Democratic House will vote to impeach and send the two Articles of Impeachment voted by the Judiciary Committee on to the Senate for a trial. We already know the result of that trial; it will not convict the president. In fact, Senate Majority Leader ‘Moscow Mitch’ has already said he will coordinate the trial with the president’s lawyers and do all he can to ensure no more dirt on the president comes out in that trial.
So why did Democrats bother? There’s a simple answer to that question and it is about history and the future. History will judge what this Congress and its members did and impeaching this president who has committed high crimes and misdemeanors against the people will be seen as the right thing to have done. It is also about the future. This president unless stopped will continue to do what he has been doing and without any effort to call him to account future presidents of both parties will see this behavior as acceptable and that is and should be unacceptable to any decent person.
We must fight for our democracy and to protect our Constitution if future generations of Americans are to have a government they can be proud of and one the rest of the world can look up to.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.