Last night, the American people were impeached. For the first time in history, the impeachment of a President was completely partisan.
President Trump Impeached on Two Charges
Not a single Republican broke ranks and supported impeachment. Trump is the third president to be impeached by the House—following Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 (NYTimes). On the article charging abuse of power, the vote was 230-197; on charge of obstruction, the vote was 229-198. Tusli Gabbard (D-HI) voted present on both charges. Two Democrats voted no on both charges—Collin Peterson (MN) and Jeff Van Drew (NJ). A third, Jared Golden (ME) voted yes on abuse and no on obstruction. Each of these three are from districts where Trump won (NYTimes). On the charges: WSJ.
David Harsanyi: Impeaching the president isn’t a Constitutional imperative. Nor is it a patriotic obligation. Democrats, who today ludicrously wrap themselves in the patina of “rule of law,” know this well. Not very long ago, they were rationalizing and cheerleading unprecedented abuses of power under the Obama administration. And they’ll be cheerleading for more abuses of the Constitution the next time they win the White House (NationalReview). It’s really about hatred, argues Victor Davis Hanson: When a party, an ideological movement, and an entire political agenda are based on hatred, people and policies become warped. The left-wing loathing of Trump has now tainted almost every Democrat’s agenda and unhinged most of the party’s major players (AmericanGreatness). Jonathan Turley: The Democrats acted like impulsive holiday shoppers. What’s most disturbing is that the Democrats know the current record of evidence falls well short of a viable case for conviction in the Senate. Nevertheless, they opted to move the impeachment by Christmas rather than build a stronger case for a vote in early 2020 (LATimes).
Impeachment: Speaker Pelosi’s Predicament
No sooner did the House vote its articles of impeachment against the President than the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, threatened to withhold them from the Senate. Her idea seems to be to force the Senate into announcing procedures for its trial that are more to the Democrats’ liking. The scheme was mooted Monday in an op-ed piece by a Harvard law professor, Laurence Tribe, in the Washington Post.
“Impeachment dies in broad daylight” could be the Post’s new slogan. That Mrs. Pelosi may sit on the impeachment became apparent following the vote, in which two articles were passed by House Democrats without so much as a single Republican vote. At a post-impeachment press conference, the Speaker astonished reporters by refusing to commit to transmitting the articles to the Senate.
Mrs. Pelosi’s remarks, Politico reported, were “barely audible above the clatter of camera shutters.” Her words, it added, “were so unexpected that they prompted reporters to shout over each other, interrupting the speaker at times and generating confusion about the next steps in the impeachment process.”
“So you may not send them?” Politico quoted one scribe as shouting in respect of the impeachment articles.
“You’re asking me, ‘So are we all going to go out and play in the snow?’” Politico quoted Mrs. Pelosi as replying. Bizarre.
If the Speaker seemed to be rattled in what ought to be her moment of glory, it could be that she’s suddenly realized the predicament into which she has precipitated the House. If she holds out for a Senate trial that excludes those who are less than impartial or have a personal interest, it could highlight a conflict of interest on the part of such Democratic candidates as, say, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Cory Booker.
That’s the least of it. House Democrats want the impeachment prosecution to be able to call witnesses. Yet they are talking about witnesses they failed to go after during the proceedings in their own chamber. They plunged ahead without them. Now they are also up against the slab of American constitutional bedrock that establishes that “each House may determine the rules of its proceedings.”
That means that once the impeachment trial is underway, the House has to play by the rules of the Senate. How long it will take Mrs. Pelosi and her camarilla to accept that part of the parchment is hard to guess. It seems to us, though, that every day of delay works to the advantage of President Trump, who is waxing in the polls. That was reported early Wednesday by Gallup’s running survey of presidential approval.
Since the start of the impeachment inquiry, Gallup reported, Mr. Trump’s job approval numbers have notched up by six percentage points, to 45%. We wouldn’t want to make too much of that, but neither would be want to make too little. Maybe it would prove helpful to the Republicans to have Mrs. Pelosi hang onto the impeachment articles for a few months, so that the President can generate more popular support.
Nothing the House can do, after all, is likely to change what we like to call the deep Constitution. It ordains that once the articles of impeachment are approved, the President’s fate is out of the hands of the people, who always lurk in the House. The President’s fate is transferred to the states, which lurk in the Senate and are the very constitutional players who lofted the president to office in the first place.
This is a constitutional concept that the Democrats forgot in 2016. So Secretary of State Clinton campaigned for the popular vote. She got the popular vote she asked for, too, and by a handsome margin. Imagine how she felt when she awoke to discover that the decision belongs not to the people per se but to the states, who were so energetically courted by the man whom they turned into President Trump.
This no doubt helps account for the bitterness that erupted among the Democrats the moment Mr. Trump emerged as president-elect. One could sense that bitterness in the House today. Democrats are still overcome with fury at the deep Constitution that gives the states the power to name as the president the loser of the popular vote. The same Constitution puts the states, absent a reversal of fortune, in a position to acquit the President the people’s House impeached.
The Truth Must be Told
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