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It's official.
Donald Trump is the 3rd president in American history to be impeached by the House of Representatives,
joining Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.
Now, Richard Nixon, remember, resigned before theHouse voted on the articles of impeachment.
But this is the middle, not the end, of the impeachment process.
This basically means Trump is officially charged with the abuses of power laid out in the
House's articles of impeachment.
But now the process moves onto the Senate, where Trump will actually be tried.
If two-thirds of the Senate vote for conviction, he'll be removed from office.
But Donald Trump is not going to be removed from office by the senate.
Mitch McConnell is the majority leader there and he more than anyone else,
will control that process, and on December 12th, he went on Fox News to assure Sean Hannity
that he saw his role not as conducting a fair trial, but as protecting
Trump's presidency – as carrying out Donald Trump's will.
“Everything I do during this, I'm coordinating with the White House counsel.
There will be no difference between the president's position and our position as to how to handle this."
The famous line about the Nixon impeachment was that it came down to
"what did the president know, and when did he know it?"
But that's not the case with Donald Trump's impeachment.
We know that the president knew. He knew from the beginning, because he released the call record
In which he personally asked Ukraine's president to investigate Hunter and Joe Biden
in return for military aid promised to Ukraine.
And a slew of witnesses testifying before congress have backed that up.
"What did Ambassador Sondland tell you that he told Mr. Yermak?"
"That the Ukrainians would have to have the prosecutor general make a statement with respect
to the investigations as a condition of having the aid lifted."
No, the question here is what will congressional Republicans accept, and what will they even defend?
The facts of the case here are very simple.
I spoke recently with Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman.
He was one of the four constitutional scholars
invited to testify before the House Judiciary Committee as part of their hearings.
The striking fact about this impeachment process, he said to me, is that it's not an edge case.
It's not a complex question of constitutional interpretation.
The framers had this one conversation on July 20th, 1787
where they laid out in really clear terms what they were worried about.
They worried about the abuse of power by a president for his personal gain to corrupt
the electoral process and to subvert national security.
That's why they put impeachment in there.
The first article of impeachment lays it out clearly:
“Using the powers of his high office, President Trump solicited the interference of a
foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 presidential election.
He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the government of
Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the
election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States
presidential election to his advantage.”
That Donalrd Trump did all this is not in doubt.
And he did his by leveraging aid that Ukraine, an ally,
needed to protect itself against Russian invasion.
And this was just one of those cases where it's just not that complicated.
Because Republicans can't argue that Trump is innocent of what he's alleged to have done
– Innocent of what his own call record shows him doing
– some Republicans embraced an argument
that is actually a lot scarier.
It's much more dangerous to our system of government – much more in violation of what the founders wanted.
That what Trump did
is fine.
"This president did nothing wrong."
"The President of the United States and Mr Zelinski both said nothing is wrong and Mr.
Zelinski has said many times over, 'We felt no pressure.'"
"I have news for everybody.
Get over it.
There's going to be political influence in foreign policy."
The problem here isn't just the 2020 election.
It's the precedent it sets for every other election.
Congress is meant to use the impeachment power to set boundaries on executive behavior.
If Republicans erase this one, then as Feldman says:
They're saying to Donald Trump, go ahead and do it in the future, and that's
bad enough.
But they're also saying it to every future president.
"Go ahead and use the office of the presidency to gain personal political advantage in upcoming
elections."
That is not, to be fair, Republicans only argument.
Some Republicans have focused on process –
That the House impeachment process was too fast,
that it didn't call all the witnesses.
"The fact our colleagues are already desperate to sign up the Senate for new fact finding,
which house democrats themselves were too impatient to see through ..."
The circularity of this argument is a bit maddening.
House Democrats wanted to call more witnesses. They wanted to subpoena more documents
and Trump blocked them, claiming executive privilege.
That's why article 2 of the two articles of impeachment is "Obstruction of Congress."
Specifically, the article says that Trump obstructed Congress in doing it's constitutional duty by:
One
Directing the White House to defy subpoenas to produce documents relevant to the investigation.
Two
Directing agencies to defy subpoenas, such that the Department of Energy, the Department
of Management and Budget, the State Department, and the Department of Defense refused to produce
a single document or record for this investigation.
And directing nine key administration officials to refuse to testify.
Look, Republicans who actually care about congress and the constitution and their duty to conduct oversight
and who truly were undecided on the facts of the case – who really felt they just didn't know what happened
between Donald Trump and Ukraine –
They could threaten Donald Trump. They could make him produce these documents.
Make him produce these witnesses by saying they'd vote for the "Obstruction of Congress" article
if he refused to honor the subpoenas and send the witnesses.
They could just demand the House is able to complete its investigation to their satisfaction.
That no congressional Republicans hold this position makes their true position all too clear.
"This thing will come to the Senate, and it will die quickly, and I will do everything
I can to make it die quickly,"
This isn't how the system the Founders constructed is meant to work.
Ambition was supposed to check ambition.
Instead, the ambition of congressional Republicans has become an enabler for the ambitions of
President Donald Trump.
There is a particular line, on page 5 of the articles of impeachment, that I keep thinking about.
It is, in my view, the most important line in the entire document,
It reads,
“President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security
and the constitution if allowed to remain in office.”
Everything Trump did with Ukraine came after the Mueller investigation, after his presidency
was put at risk over allegations of collusion with a foreign power in 2016.
And then – after all of that – Donald Trump, having escaped that inquiry unscathed –
He turned around and tried to enlist
Ukraine's help in the next election.
If congressional Republicans let him off the hook for this, why does anyone think he won't
do it again, and again, and again?
And why, then, don't they think this will just become a normal tactic for incumbent
presidents worried about their own reelection?
This is, of course, the exact scenario the Founders most feared.
Republicans are abandoning their constitutional role to provide oversight and to curb the
executive's abuse of power.
Every Senate Republican I interview
tell me they see themselves as a constitutional conservative.
That their goal in congress is to protect the constitution.
But that's not what they have become.
They've become anti-constitutional Trumpists.
They are putting our system of government at risk.
One more thing before you go –
If you want to hear the full interview with Noah Feldman and quite a bit more like that,
you can subscribe to my podcast "Impeachment, explained."
We release every week. We have a lot more where that came from and we'll put a link in the description.
    You must  Log in  to get the function.
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Impeachment is Trump's ultimate loyalty test for Republicans

25 Folder Collection
林宜悉 published on August 8, 2020
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