Last night the House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. As an independent conservative, I believe that the vote to impeach the president was richly deserved, a position which I realize is not held by a great many other conservatives, including many of my fellow Resurgent contributors. Even though I believe that the vote was justified, it is difficult for me to celebrate what is undoubtedly a dark day for my country.
While it’s true that some Democrats set out to impeach Donald Trump from his first day in office. It’s also true that Trump’s actions provided them with a heckuva lot of ammunition in their effort.
People will accuse me and others of opposing Trump and favoring impeachment because we don’t like him, but that’s a chicken and egg argument. I opposed Trump because I saw him as unfit. Like many others, I hoped when he was elected that he would rise to the occasion. He did not. The impeachment is a mess of his own making. Even though I’ve never been a Trump fan, I didn’t support impeachment until there was strong evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors as well as a significant shift toward impeachment in public opinion.
Few remember that when an impeachment resolution was introduced in the House earlier this year, it was killed in July thanks to the votes of 137 Democrats as well as Rep Justin Amash, the Michigan congressman who left the Republican Party last spring. If Democrats just wanted to impeach Trump without cause, they have had almost a year to do so. But they didn’t until now. Something happened in the past six months to shift the votes of more than 100 congressmen.
The something was the whistleblower and the other witnesses who came forward to testify to Mr. Trump’s efforts to use foreign aid, paid for by the taxpayers, to induce a foreign country to investigate his political opponent. The phone call at the heart of the matter was made the day after former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified to Congress about his investigation into the first set of allegations Donald Trump conspired with a foreign government to interfere in an election.
That more direct evidence of his abuse of power has not become public is due entirely to the fact that the Trump Administration has stonewalled Congress, ignoring subpoenas and refusing to allow officials to testify. The Administration apparently hoped that congressional Democrats would fight the obstruction in the courts and that the matter would not be resolved before the election. This obstruction became the second article of impeachment.
Finally, as the House prepared to vote to hold Mr. Trump accountable, his shadow diplomat, Rudy Giuliani, a man I once admired, returned to Ukraine to carry out his mission of finding dirt on Hunter Biden with the help of the Ukrainian government. Even at this late date, there has been no grand jury indictment or formal federal investigation of Biden.
Given these facts it is difficult to reach a conclusion other than that the president is both shameless and utterly unafraid of facing any consequences for his actions. Since the president was previously accused of seeking foreign help in the 2016 election and then obstructing the investigation, it seems obvious that the president either cannot learn from past mistakes, is utterly unrepentant for his actions, or both.
Even though the facts were on the side of Trump’s critics, the Democrats made a hash of the process. Self-imposed deadlines pushed Pelosi and company towards a vote when the country was split with a slight plurality favoring impeachment. If the Democrats had kept digging and subpoenaed more witnesses (Lev Parnas, the indicted Ukrainian-American who assisted Giuliani, for example), they might have increased public opinion to the point where Senate Republicans would have to take the matter seriously.
Regardless of the outcome in the Senate, the digging won’t stop. President Trump is likely to claim “TOTAL EXONERATION” in an all-caps tweet, but investigative journalists, and possibly congressional Democrats as well, will keep keep unraveling the loose threads of the Ukraine and other Trump scandals. There is likely to be a steady drip of revelations of Trump corruption from now until Election Day.
None of this makes me happy. I’m not happy that a president had to be disgraced with impeachment. I’m not happy that we have a corrupt president. I’m not happy that Republicans, my former party and many people I used to respect, are so in the tank for Trump that none can admit his faults publicly.
I’m not happy, but I do appreciate House Democrats and Rep. Amash for stepping up to the plate and doing their constitutional duty. President Trump needed to be rebuked and Republicans have fallen far short of their promise to hold him accountable.
In fact, Republican acquiescence and fear of challenging the president was a factor in both their 2018 midterm disaster and last night’s impeachment vote. Americans voted to restrain Trump last year and Democrats have done that where Republicans did not.
However, the worst part is that becoming the third president in American history to be impeached is unlikely to make Donald Trump mend his ways. If and when the Senate acquits him, he will be emboldened rather than chastened. A second-term Trump who never has to face voters again will be even more dangerous to American institutions than the first-term Trump who has labeled impeachment “unconstitutional” and a “coup.”
Ultimately, preserving our balance of powers and a limited presidency is going to be up to the voters. If we still believe in the rule of law and the idea that presidents are not kings, then President Trump must be defeated. If conservatives and libertarians want our Republican Party back, he must be beaten badly.
But the battle doesn’t end there. Voters need to be engaged and party nominating processes need to be reformed to ensure that we never have a choice as horrific as the one we had in 2016 between two corrupt, incompetent candidates. And both parties in Congress need to take back the authority that they have delegated to presidents of both parties who have become increasingly lawless.