Op Ed

Impeachment Depends on Facts

Republicans ignore them at their own —and America’s — peril.

By - Nov 26th, 2019 02:00 pm
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Donald Trump. Photo from whitehouse.gov.

Donald Trump. Photo from whitehouse.gov.

I have been reluctant to support impeachment of Trump. Only 8 federal officials have ever been impeached by the House (majority of those voting) and convicted (removed) by the Senate (two-thirds of those present). Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached, but not convicted. And, Nixon resigned after the House Judiciary Committee approved 3 bipartisan impeachment articles. Today, a Senate conviction would require 20 Republicans to join all Democrats (if every senator attended). Unimaginable!

However, facts matter in a democratic society. Authoritarian rule requires constant deception, as well as undermining Congress, courts, intelligence agencies, law enforcement and the press. Disregarding facts will weaken America and send the nation into a speedy decline. The House impeachment inquiry has uncovered damning and inconvenient facts. Ignore at our own peril.

Public hearings, over two weeks by the House Intelligence Committee, made clear that Trump lied and subverted the Constitution. Trump’s infamous telephone call (partial) transcript with Ukrainian President Zelensky reinforced the whistleblower’s complaint. Any wonder why Trump called the whistleblower a “spy” and treasonous. Worse, Trump hinted that the death penalty should be imposed. And, for good measure Trump called the press “scum” (Los Angeles Times). Trump even “mulled” firing the intelligence community’s inspector general (a Trump appointee) for having told Congress about the whistleblower’s complaint regarding Trump’s telephone call (New York Times — NYT).

However, Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson has attacked the whistleblower: “This would have been far better off if we would’ve just taken care of this behind the scenes. …(the whistleblower) exposed things that didn’t need to be exposed” (Meet the Press). What was exposed and confirmed by Trump’s telephone call (partial) transcript and congressional witnesses: Trump demanded that Ukraine dig up dirt on Joe Biden, a potential 2020 opponent, and endorse the fiction that it was Ukraine that interfered in our 2016 election.

“Johnson in the past has been an outspoken advocate of protections for whistleblowers… .” (NYT). But Johnson now says: “Not all whistleblowers are created equal”. Johnson believes that there’s Ukrainian dirt on Joe Biden and that Ukraine – not Russia – hijacked our 2016 election. This nonsense has been unequivocally disproved. Kurt Volker, former Trump special envoy to Ukraine and a GOP witness said: allegations against Biden were “not credible” and a Ukrainian investigation of Biden was “unacceptable”. And, Fiona Hill, former Trump-appointed National Security Council official, said: “I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative that the Ukrainian government is a U.S. adversary, and that Ukraine – not Russia – attacked us in 2016. These fictions are harmful … .”

After the hearings ended, the NYT reported: “In a briefing that closely aligned with … Hill’s testimony, American intelligence officials informed senators and their aides in recent weeks that Russia has engaged in a yearslong campaign to essentially frame Ukraine as responsible for Moscow’s own hacking of the 2016 election … .” Did Johnson or his staff attend? What else does Johnson know about this scandal?

Facts matter. A democratic society can’t survive without facts.

This column was originally published by Wispolitics.com

Bill Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

More about the Impeachment of President Trump

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

5 thoughts on “Op Ed: Impeachment Depends on Facts”

  1. Trmott says:

    Of course facts are important. Actually they MIGHT be somewhat “determinative” after established beyond reasonalble doubt. I say “MIGHT be” because facts alone, no matter how many and no matter that most people may be concerned or even repulsed by them are not sufficient; thus, they are “necessary but not sufficient”. One other thing that impeachment and removal from office depends on is a serious crime so obvious that is clear for all to see after a case is layed out alongside the law(s) that were broken by the President or at his/her direction. Another thing that impeachment depends on as a practical matter is a groundswell of bipartisan support for the idea that a POTUS must be removed from office other than through the standard practice election. Without such bipartisan recognition (including 2/3rds majority Senate endorsement), we could/would move ever closer to a virtual civil war along political and ideological lines.

    So, the hurdle for impeachment seems to be a very high one: (1) uncontrovertible facts, (2) a clear-cut serious crime having been committed by or at the direction of or with the willing constent of the POTUS, and (3) strong bipartisan support for the action. I think all would agree that it’s tough to pull off a removal from office via impeachment. And, many (I would be one) are glad that’s the case. Why? Because we have regular elections pretty frequently, the whole idea being that “the people” will not be stuck very long with any elected official should they wish to replace him or her.

    I yield my soapbox to anyone who wants it.

  2. Thomas Martinsen says:

    The facts in this case point towards the removal of Trump from the office of President. Alternative narratives, which ignore the facts, collapse when you so much as look at them. Good night, Donald.

  3. Trmott says:

    I wish I were as confident as you, Mr. Martinsen. I’m still waiting to learn what crime(s) deserving of impeachment can be pinned on Trump by vote of 2/3rds of the Senate. . I suppose Schiff will help Nadler identify that/those specific crime or crimes when they send their case over to the Senate for trial. I won’t speculate what provable crime(s) the House will articulate as several offenses have been informally alleged, but what do YOU think or suggest the charge(s) will be?

    Incompetence isn’t a crime per se, nor is being objectionable as a person. Vindictiveness, hypocrisy, non-stop personal attacks, hyperbole … those are “factual” things for voters to judge, and we see them every single day but none of them can be the basis for impeachment. Perhaps the voters WILL turn away because of these things, but I do think it possible that he could actually convince lots of them that he’s STILL a victim, starting with noting that there was a vocal movement for impeachment starting the very week he was elected, and BEFORE he could even do anything that would be an impeachable offense.

    Trump has managed to keep the potential “victim” image/perception alive, unbelievably, because he has not done what politicians typically do … compromise and conform. He’s been president for 3 years but no one can charge him with becoming an “insider”, or of easing off on what he campaigned about in order to curry favor or cowtowing. Keeping his promises and projecting his image of being the underdog outsider makes him harder to take down than if he turned into a garden variety forked tongue vote chaser who goes along to get along. Remarkable.

    ps. I’m about to lose the bet I made that DJT would either not make it through his term of office or at least decide not to go for a second term. I thought he’d find the job so frustrating (compared to his Trump Inc gig) that he’d quit. But that was before I knew very much about him. OR, I thought, the GOP establishment that he’d savaged in his campaign would figure out a way to kneecap or tame (domesticate) him before he sank the entire Republican party. But we now know that he prefers an atmosphere of confrontation and unpredictability (chaos?) AND that he is supremely confident in his ability to overcome whatever opposition he encounters.

  4. TransitRider says:

    Until Trump was caught (thanks to the whistleblower), he was trying to rig the 2020 election by using $400 million from the Federal Treasury to influence others (a foreign government, to boot!) to provide opposition research his campaign would otherwise pay for.

    And this is just the one instance we know about! How many other instances of this illegal behavior are out there that we just don’t know about (nobody courageous enough to risk their job and personal safety to blow the whistle)?

    Trump has no moral compass whatsoever—other than the $400 million he inherited, his entire wealth and business empire is based solely on cheating others (by reneging on his debts)—and we have every reason to believe Ukraine isn’t the only foreign government he is arm-twisting for his personal benefit.

    We know, for example, he folded like a cheap camera when Turkey wanted to attack the Kurds (because he wanted to protect his Istanbul real estate investment?), that he refuses to concede Mohammad Bin Salman’s involvement in Khashoggi’s murder (he has huge financial deals with the Saudis), and that he asked China for dirt on the Bidens, too (what would stop Trump from giving Xi Jinping a sweetheart tariff deal in return for dirt?).

  5. mkeumkenews09 says:

    The founders added impeachment to the Constitution to address the specific issues (eg. bribery) on which Trump is accused. Additionally, impeachment is not an investigation based on Federal crime law.

    https://www.lawfareblog.com/constitution-says-bribery-impeachable-what-does-mean
    https://www.npr.org/2019/11/25/782537010/katyal-lays-out-legal-argument-to-impeach-trump-in-new-book
    https://theconversation.com/founders-removal-from-office-is-not-the-only-purpose-of-impeachment-124254

    Impeachment is the correct and required course per the Constitution.

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