In the cover story in the March 2019 issue of The Atlantic, Benjamin Lowy presents an in depth analysis of the case for impeachment of Donald Trump. This possible action by the US House of Representatives has been characterized by many in the media and in the Democratic party, as well as by most Republicans, as political in nature, unlikely to result in conviction in the Senate, and likely to result in a sympathetic uptick of support for the President. Some analysts have counseled that it is better to wait until the 2020 election and let the “constitutional” remedy for the removal of an unfit president take place.
Mr. Lowy makes a compelling case, however, for implementing the truly constitutional remedy, ie the process of bringing articles of impeachment to the House, a process which the founders and authors of the constitution, such as Benjamin Franklin, saw as crucial to the survival of the nation in the event of the election of a person who subsequently proved to be not only derelict in his duty, but who intentionally and egregiously flouted the US constitution and the rule of law. While a persuasive calculation can be made that waiting until the next election would be more politically effective in removing this individual from office, the danger is that in the intervening time much damage can be done to the democracy, by an individual who attacks the very basis of the constitution (the courts, the election system, law enforcement) and that the swirl of charges and counter charges from extremists in both parties could easily escalate into violent confrontations.
The author makes a compelling case that once the articles of impeachment are brought before the House, a process of investigation to elucidate the validity of the charges can begin, much like the process when a case is brought in front of a grand jury to see if an indictment is warranted and merits the case being brought to trial. The beneficial effect of this approach is that the person who is the subject of the potential indictment, in this instance Donald Trump will, unless extraordinarily reckless, be constrained from extreme and inflammatory statements and actions lest these statements and actions strengthen the case against him. It also brings the light of evidence to bear on extreme speculations, both for and against, taking it out of the unrestrained public sphere, and into the Congress where such an issue belongs. Letting the process proceed in full view of the electorate will temper extreme elements on both sides.
Cynics will stress that impeachment by the House will never result in conviction by the Senate. This is probably true unless it uncovers evidence of such outrageous criminal conduct that even the most ardent of supporters in the Senate are forced to concede that this President must be removed from controlling the levers of power. But by then the process will have had the beneficial effect that I suspect many moderate Republicans wish – to tame the wild gut instincts of this singularly vulgar and unfit man until, indeed, he can be peacefully removed from office in the next election. All parties will have a chance to have their say, present the facts, make their arguments, and place the Nation back on the road to reacquiring a sound constitutional democracy and a system of laws which treats everyone equally and with respect. Shirking this constitutional duty by the US House of Representatives does not serve the interests of our People, our Democracy, or our Nation. The case for Impeachment is strong. Our Democracy is in the balance.
Joe Sundeen, Lower Makefield