Impeachment II: Return of the Impeachable Offenses
Donald J. Trump is the third President to be impeached, and the first to be impeached twice. In a single term. Now, there’s something Trump and his backers can crow about. Donald J. Trump, the First to be Impeached Twice.
This, my dear reader, is of course Fact. Why, you ask, am I repeating this fact? It’s to lay the groundwork, the foundation if you will, to show how rare it’s been in US history and national politics for Congress to try to pull the emergency stop on a President. To use the one and only method and recourse the Framers created to stop a rogue presidency in its tracks (aside from blunt force obstruction, but that only works for political nominees and legislation).
Yet, of the three times Congress has resorted to this Constitutional emergency brake and eject system no president has been convicted by the Senate. The closest this country has ever come to removing a sitting president from office was Andrew Johnson, and he narrowly escaped conviction by a single vote.
Now, we have a former president who has been impeached for a second time while in his last days in office for inciting insurrection (as part of his ongoing pressure campaign and court focused coup attempt) against the very government he swore an oath to uphold and defend. Of course, knowing Donald Trump’s history of not honoring his word and acting only in his self interests (though, time and again we see not always in his best interests) are any of us surprised he attempted a coup? Make no mistake about it, what Donald J. Trump and his allies fomented was a coup. And, a coup not necessarily for Power and setting himself up on the world stage in the same dress as the dictators and tyrants he so admires (though I’m sure that’s icing on the cake), but more so because remaining in office shields him from the many, many criminal and civil investigations and lawsuits he faces now that he’s out. Let us also not forget the hundreds of millions of dollars in loans he has coming due shortly and which there are rumors he’s ill equipped to repay.
We know all this. You, me, the public at large. The world that watched in horror along with us knows all this. Our representatives in Congress know this, even if a large minority of them, after experiencing the assault first hand, want to play See No Evil.
Living this history in realtime and then looking back at past presidencies, good, bad, indifferent, the questions must be asked. Does Congress, and the Senate specifically, have the political will & guts to convict and remove a sitting president? History suggests otherwise. Does the Senate, after experiencing first hand the assault on our Capitol, the violent and murderous mob incited to insurrection by political forces led by Donald J. Trump, have the nerve, the will, the patriotism to defend American Democracy and say “No more. We will suffer these indignities no longer by this would-be tyrant. We will stand up in this grave hour and defend what we swore an oath to defend. We will put aside partisan politics and our cultural war to say that no president, no officeholder, past or present, can ever do what Donald J. Trump did and go unpunished, allowed to seek office once again. No.”? Sadly, I don’t think so.
The evidence is plenty. The actions of Mitch McConnell and the majority of Republican Senators have spoken loudly. “We will suffer the decline of the Republic, we will help diminish and demolish the Great American Experiment, the Democracy we’ve all declared so dear, so that we can bring back the superior position of the White Christian Male.” If Mitch McConnell and his Republican cohorts had had an ounce of real, true American patriotism, he and they would not have waited until after Trump was out of office to hold this most grave and consequential Senate trial. No, he would have agreed with the House that Donald J. Trump’s actions were a serious threat against America and had to be dealt with immediately. He would have pushed his Democratic colleagues to immediately send over the Article of Impeachment.
Instead, he and his Republican enablers made excuses and created reasons to push the trial out to a point where now they could argue the Constitutionality of even having a trial (thankfully, that’s been put to rest). Once again showing just how rotten and corrupt the Republican Party has become, and once again proving that the ultimate failsafe for our Democracy was seemingly created in vain.
My take away from this last Administration and the Republican held Senate, and no doubt so many others have walked away with the same lesson, is that no president will ever be impeached and convicted in the Senate, for party loyalty has always been and will always be greater than loyalty to the American ideal. I’m hoping that the next few days proves me utterly, completely wrong.