Editorial: The case for impeachment is a case for our democracy
In last week’s impeachment hearings, during which House Democrats called on three judicial scholars for their constitutional interpretation of what acts would be grounds for impeachment, the evidence was overwhelming that President Trump’s attempted bribery of Ukraine’s president met the standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
According to numerous reporters present, the testimony was blunt. Here’s a partial account by NBC News correspondent Adam Edelman:
“One after another, and at times using blistering language, the trio of professors sitting side by side — who were called to testify by Democrats — told the committee that, according to evidence against Trump that has been made public, Trump was guilty of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ and other impeachable actions.
“Pamela Karlan, a professor at Stanford Law School and a former Justice Department official in the Obama administration, said ‘the very idea that a president might seek the aid of a foreign government in his re-election campaign would have horrified’ America’s Founding Fathers...’
“Karlan said Trump’s ‘demand’ that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy launch investigations into Burisma — the Ukrainian gas company that former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden joined as a board member — and a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election ‘constituted an abuse of power.’
“‘Drawing a foreign government into our election process is an especially serious abuse of power because it undermines democracy itself,’ she said.
“Michael Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law, added that ‘the record compiled thus far shows that the president has committed several impeachable offenses, including bribery, abuse of power in soliciting a personal favor from a foreign leader to benefit his political campaign, obstructing Congress and obstructing justice.’
“‘I cannot help but conclude that this president has attacked each of the Constitution’s safeguards against establishing a monarchy in this country. Both the context and gravity of the president’s misconduct are clear… If what we are talking about is not impeachable, nothing is impeachable,’” Gerhardt said.
Interestingly, neither Republicans in Congress nor the White House have attempted to deny the facts surrounding Trump’s actions. They have admitted he bribed the president of Ukraine with an action that could have benefited his campaign for president and put an ally in jeopardy as if it were no big deal. And what they are attempting to argue, bizarrely, is that such a violation of the public trust falls short of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
House Democrats are right to also incorporate obstruction charges against Trump, as he has purposely obstructed the investigation of his administration’s actions on several fronts, including looking into the possible collusion with Russian interference in the 2016 election, which was the basis of the Mueller Report. Trump has consistently ordered those who worked in his administration not to provide testimony or information that might help either Mueller’s investigation or the impeachment inquiry determine the truth.
Any impartial observer would know that a president trying to hide facts from discovery and who goes to great ends to distract, promote debunked conspiracy theories and work tirelessly to create misinformation knows the truth would reveal damning information (from his actions as a candidate, as president and to whatever financial information may be compromising in his tax returns) And yet, Trump supporters cast that commonsense aside at the nation’s peril.
It should be apparent to all that if we are to be a nation governed by a strongman who rules through misinformation (propaganda), like the autocrats he so admires, and not by laws, we will have lost our democracy.