Since its inception some 15 months ago, VoxFairfax has positioned itself as a marketplace of ideas, eschewing political horse races and candidate endorsements in favor of presenting broader themes raised by such events, including cultural impact and voting. Sometimes, however, events and forces collide, flow together, or create intolerable circumstances. Following the publication of the Mueller report and, in particular, the ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos, it was time to take off the gloves. VoxFairfax has concluded: The House must begin the impeachment process immediately.
The pros and cons of impeachment have settled down to a binary choice; our nation cannot sustain this ambivalence. While many Democrats—chief among them House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—advocate more patience fearing that initiating such hearings will create a martyr of the Republican candidate. others, including some presidential hopefuls such as Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, favor commencing the procedure immediately, as does the lone Republican Rep. Justin Amash (MI).
Impeachment does not mean removal from office, although it may appear so to many voters. It simply means the House’s voting to bring articles of impeachment against the president which, if passed, would necessitate a trial in the Senate, as was done with former President Bill Clinton in 1999 (and notwithstanding Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell’s pledge that this would never happen). Clinton was not convicted. The same result obtained in 1868 after President Andrew Johnson was impeached by the House. And in 1974, after being told by Senate leaders that he would definitely be convicted upon the House’s impeachment articles, Richard Nixon opted to resign.
Members of the House—the People’s chamber directly representing the citizens of the United States—must take the moral stand that the sitting President has committed offenses—high crimes and misdemeanors—that call for a trial witnessed by the public.
Why is it imperative that the House begin formal hearings on the impeachment of the President? Isn’t it a waste of time and resources, since the GOP-led Senate would never convict and remove him from office? Emphatically No, it is not. It is the House of Representatives’ Constitutional responsibility, plain and simple. Irrespective of the ultimate outcome, members of the House represent the citizens of the United States and therefore must take their duty-bound oath to assert that the public trust has been breached and the incumbent is unfit to serve. We must judge—or forfeit the place of the United States as a model of democracy,
What actions has Trump taken that demand impeachment hearings? Recently, he invited the interference of other countries offering “oppo” information in the election, whether positive or negative, about opponents; the President also did not think such offers needed to be reported to the FBI. When challenged that his current FBI chief said it was illegal to accept such information, the President said, “He’s wrong.” In an extraordinary move, the chair of the Federal Elections Commission issued a public letter to the same effect. Further, court documents in New York have cited him as participating in election fraud; his policies and action on the internment of immigrant children are not only abhorrent, but contrary to our country’s values. He has failed to place assets in a blind trust as he promised; failed to sever ties with his businesses; his family profits from the presidency and contravenes nepotism rules; profits continue to flow from the Washington hotel to the family business while lobbyists and foreign governments contribute to that income; he sides with Russian, North Korean, Turkish strongmen rather than with American intelligence; he is an embarrassment on the world stage; he lies—all the time, and he cares not for American laws with which thwart his actions . . . and the list goes on and on.
To the “pragmatists” who say that subpoenaed witnesses will not testify and that contempt citations mean nothing and will not compel action, the response: (1) The impeachment process must be undertaken as a concrete measure of the nation’s political will; (2) further noncompliance should be tested in court, with expedited action urged, complete with backed-up threats of fines and possible jail time; (3) hearings should continue with those who will appear, as was recently done with John Dean and legal scholars; and, finally, (4) even if none of the foregoing brings the desired result, we will have tried. The stakes are too great to be indulgent.
Speaker Pelosi, we implore you to let the House committees do their work.