Donald Trump survived impeachment. Now the president is once again testing the limits of presidential power.
Impeachment, the constitutional process of presidential accountability that has been cable news fodder and dinner party gossip for nearly three years, is finally here. This week the Senate will begin hearing arguments for, and against, convicting and removing Donald Trump from office.
No matter what happens in the Senate trial, Donald Trump’s presidency will forever have an asterix beside it. An asterix that tarnishes the one thing Donald Trump loves more than anything else: his legacy.
Impeachment will be a permanent, multi-generation lasting stain on Donald Trump’s legacy. A stain that no dry cleaner, or an inept personal lawyer named Rudy, can erase.
Donald Trump swore an oath in defense of the American experiment. However, Mr. Trump has spent his entire presidency in pursuit of using the levers of government and power for his, and his family’s, personal gain.
The president skirted the law, and basic decency, for decades as a businessman. As a 73 year old wealthy white man born into privilege the president is now, for the first time, experiencing what it feels like to be held responsible for his actions.
The prospect of impeaching the president has divided the Democratic Party for the entirety of the Trump presidency. A division that the president naively took advantage of when he withheld Ukrainian security aid in-return for Ukranian assistance in his reelection campaign.
Trump is now staring at the consequences of that naïveté.
Impeachment has rattled the president
For his part, Donald Trump has not handled his impeachment very well. His tweetstorms, meltdowns, and tantrums have reached breakneck speed.
The president, and many of his supporters, view this erratic behavior as one of his greatest strengths. Ironically, it is because of this perceived strength that has brought him to this point in his presidency.
As a result of his erratic behavior Mr. Trump explicitly sought foreign interference in the American election system. He sought help because of his paranoia of his own weaknesses, and the strengths of his potential opponent, Joe Biden.
Throughout impeachment hearings and debate, House Democrats showcased that Trump’s behavior has both undermined America’s institutions and have violated his oath of office. Now, the Senate will take next step in debating the fate of Mr. Trump’s presidency.
The president’s defense echos his talking points
One of Donald Trump’s mindless talking points is to complain that he’s been impeached because Democrats want to overturn the 2016 election. His legal defense team will echo the same talking point during the Senate trial. The defense team will argue that impeaching the president is a dangerous exercise in attempting to overturn democracy.
However, a fact missing from this weak defense strategy is that Donald Trump lost the popular vote by almost three million votes. A fact that routinely contributes to his insecurity as president.
Nevertheless, Donald Trump has been impeached because the voters who put him into the White House in 2016 have put Democrats in charge of the House.
In 2016 the prospect of a Trump presidency carried too many unknowns to count. It was because of those unknowns that Americans both voted for and against Donald Trump.
Now, in 2020, those unknowns have been answered.
Donald Trump does not revere public service like his predecessors. He does not view the awesome responsibility of being president as a platform to lead, uplift, and improve the lives for all Americans. Donald Trump views the office of President, and the federal government, as an instrument meant solely for his own well-being. And that is why his legacy is, and should be, tarnished.
Nancy Pelosi is finally all in. Pelosi’s announcement of a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump was as monumental as it was anti-climatic. It always seemed as if we all knew that impeachment was an unwritten chapter that was poised to come to fruition during Donald Trump’s presidency.
Pelosi has long resisted throwing her weight behind impeachment, going so far as to say that Trump “wasn’t worth it”. But, revelations of a July 25th phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky where Trump urged Mr. Zelensky to look into Joe and Hunter Biden was the final straw. What followed was a never-ending cascade of Democratic House members announcing their support of an impeachment inquiry.
On the House
The speaker had no other choice than to support an inquiry
The swelling of support was too much for the speaker to continue to look the other way. Anything less than a full-throated endorsement would have resulted in a serious threat to her effectiveness as Speak
For a time the number of reasons for impeaching the president could equal the number of reasons not too. Evidence of obstruction of justice matched concerns of an inquiry aiding the president’s re-election bid, and whether or not the actions of the president rose to the frustratingly mythical threshold of “high crimes and misdemeanors” laid out in Article II of the Constitution.
While calls for impeachment have been continual for two and a half years, amplified by Democrats re-taking control of the House and the Mueller report published in April. These calls have in many ways diminished the unique gravity of such an endurance. Divisiveness and partisanship have tainted the somber ness, gravity, and seriousness of a presidential impeachment.
Donald J. Trump is now only the fourth president to face such an exercise in accountability and self-governance. The allegations, and supporting memo of the call and whistleblower complaint, is without the taint of partisanship that followed the Mueller investigation. His staunchest of defenders have found themselves unable to coherently defend Trump’s actions.
Pelosi has continually proven herself to be one of the great political tacticians of the 21st century. That should scare Trump to death. Trump’s feelings toward her are a cocktail of fear, anger, and awe. Pelosi will now have to tactfully lead the House, and the country, through the somber impeachment process.
Header Image: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America [CC BY-SA]
Justin Amash, the six-term congressman from Michigan, became the darling of the political media when he became the first Republican member of Congress to call for an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Amash’s damning analysis of the Mueller report, delivered via Twitter, earned him the infamous “loser” label from the incumbent president.
Intra-party squabbles have long been catnip for the press and politicos by helping to fill cable news segments and empty columns in newspapers. These squabbles are almost always overly reported, blown out of proportion, and all-in-all melodramatic fights over bruised egos.
However, the Trump-Amash fracas feels different. It feels different because Amash has further than any congressional republican in criticizing Trump. One reason is for this is Amash’s record for being a steadfast conservative. The other reason it feels different was because of his detailed description of this support for an inquiry.
Amash tweeted a searing articulation of the case for impeaching the president. In his support for an inquiry, Amash tweeted that Trump has a “false narrative” around the Mueller report. A very diplomatic way of saying he thinks the president is lying. Anyone with merely a bare-bones knowledge of Justin Amash should be showing no sense of surprise by the posture of the Michigander.
Justin Amash has long been an intriguing figure largely because he revels in being an oddball in the modern Republican party. The man also explains every vote he makes. Every, single, vote. While some members of Congress chose to avoid defending their voting record like it’s the plague, Amash embraces his with a full bearhug. Amash even opposed the confirmation of the conservative fratboy god that is Brett Kavanaugh.
In 2015 he played a pivotal role, along with other fiscally conservative GOP house members, in founding the Freedom Caucus. The group that helped force John Boehner for not being conservative enough has now become the loudest group of cheerleaders that Trump has in Congress, with almost unfettered access to the White House.
Amash’s criticism of Trump has not gone over well, to say the least, with the rest of the caucus and has earned him a badge of condemnation. The Freedom Caucus has now condemned one of its founding fathers for the unforgivable act of criticizing a republican leader almost four years ago the Freedom caucus forced a republican leader by the name of John Boehner from power. Ironic, yes. Does Amash care? Not one bit.
Facing conservatives, however, is the unfortunate reality that Amash is one of the most ardent conservatives in American politics. They can’t attack Amash with the usual “never Trumper” talking points they’ve used to go after other Trump critics such as Jeff Flake or Mitt Romney. This is what makes Amash’s support of an impeachment inquiry all the more powerful.
He has given House Democrats the ability to portray any inquiry as a bi-partisan matter, he’s potentially given cover to other House republicans that support an inquiry but are nervous of the presidential Twitter feed, and put additional pressure on Nancy Pelosi to give into an inquiry.
With the constant drama surrounding the will they or won’t they impeach, the Amash-Trump conflict has once again exposed how deeply the GOP has indeed become the party of Trump. Trump has embedded himself so deeply within the modern GOP that he is now in many ways it’s corner-stone. He’s both a polarizing figure that the 21st-century Republican party has built itself around for both the short and long-term.
Amash’s position may, at the end of the day, may turn out to be an empty vessel if Nancy Pelosi doesn’t move towards impeachment. But the mere fact that a sitting member of Congress from the party of the sitting president has articulated a case for impeaching Donald Trump far better than many democrats is in its own respect remarkable. And Amash’s ability to make this case, without being afraid of Trump’s wrath of, or his party turning his back on him, is evermore noteworthy.
Header Image: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America [CC BY-SA 2.0]