President Donald Trump’s suspected peddling of influence demands an investigation.
The facts uncovered should determine whether the inquiry undertaken by the U.S. House of Representatives is enough to show that the president likely committed “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the constitutional standard for impeachment of a president. If so, members of Congress would be compelled to write up articles of impeachment.
In the meantime, the president should be mindful of history. When impeachment is threatened, the cover-up is often worse than the initial crime. Presidents Nixon and Clinton both learned that painful lesson.
If President Trump did indeed attempt to influence the Ukrainians to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, it’s a serious abuse of the power of his office. None of us want a president who uses his power, backed by the implied threat of withholding U.S. aid, for personal gain.
Some Democrats in Congress have resisted impeachment proceedings against the president because they believe it could further shred a divided nation. Some fear that an impeachment of the president would spark violence while widening the gulf between the president’s supporters and his detractors.
The president, himself, has stoked that concern with a thinly veiled threat to treat those who provided information to the whistleblower as spies, as well as his standard name-calling and boorish behavior toward his political opponents and Americans who disagree with his approach and policies.
But we’ve reached the point where an investigation, the first step toward impeachment, of the president’s dealings with foreign powers simply must take place, regardless of the backlash.
The president’s cozy relationships and backroom dealings with some foreign leaders — often tyrants — demand it.
It’s not an impeachable offense for the president to act un-presidentially and break with time-honored traditions and practices of the post. If it were, President Trump would have been impeached long ago.
But evidence of a blatant attempt to use U.S. diplomacy and aid for personal political leverage, rather than to serve the best interests of the country, is clearly cause for an investigation of possible wrongdoing.