The fight over whether to impeach President Donald Trump is nothing less than a battle of truth versus lies, of constitutional law against executive arrogance, of good government against bad politics.
During inquiry hearings, witness after witness, 17 present and former Trump administration officials in all, provided evidence that the president and his administration — both official and shadow — attempted to extract from Ukraine’s new president a public statement that the country’s officials would investigate Democrat Joe Biden, Trump’s most probable opponent in the November 2020 presidential election.
To force Ukraine’s hand, the president withheld about $400 million worth of military aid that had been earmarked to help the nation battle Russia. Evidence clearly establishes a quid pro quo demanded by the president.
That satisfies the first article of impeachment approved Friday by the House Judiciary Committee: abuse of the power of the president’s office.
The second article of impeachment, obstruction of justice, is even more obvious. The president sought to impede the impeachment inquiry by directing White House staff and administration officials to ignore subpoenas to testify, challenging the Constitution.
As always, Trump and his minions have attempted to run a misdirection by impugning their Democratic rivals, howling “sham,” “witch hunt” and the like. Trump’s supporters are taking the bait. An aggregate of national polls shows that 10% of Republicans believe he should be impeached while 85% of Democrats say he should.
The GOP dissent seems rooted as much in distrust of Democrats as in a belief that the president did nothing wrong.
Meanwhile, the vote of the House Judiciary Committee to impeach was divided 23-17 along party lines with no defectors.
This week, the full House will consider whether to direct the Senate to put Trump on trial. Democrats enjoy a 235-199 advantage in the House; Republicans hold the edge, 53-45, in the Senate.
The House almost certainly will vote for impeachment, perhaps as early as Wednesday. Trump would then stand trial in the Senate.
It seems highly probable that the GOP-majority Senate would not side against the president — unless perhaps more senior officials, such as former National Security Adviser John Bolton, are compelled to testify and offer further evidence against the president.
Anyway, it’s unclear at this point whether President Trump should be removed from office. Here’s what is clear: The House should send him to trial in the Senate. The evidence demands it.