OP-ED: Is this the end of Trump?
The times call for us to sprinkle impeachment references in our conversations. Let’s assume the era of “fake news” is over (although nobody told Donald Trump), so we need to make sure little impeachment bon mots we distribute like after-dinner mints are accurate.
Is Trump going to be impeached?
Almost certainly, yes. An impeachment inquiry is underway and a sufficient number of House members already has vowed to impeach when the final vote occurs.
Are Republicans correct when they keep saying that Trump has not been able to respond to allegations against him? Those allegations are that he acted improperly in withholding congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine for its war against Russia until Ukraine’s politicians agreed to try to find dirt on Joe Biden, running for president against Trump.
Actually, Trump tweets every day, many times, about his take on all this, such as referring to allegations against him as a “lynching.” He also repeats a mantra that there was “no quid pro quo,” a reference to his insistence that military aid had nothing to do with his demands that Ukraine muster dirt on Biden. Unfortunately for Trump, both he and his acting chief of staff cheerfully admitted there was a quid pro quo before denying it.
Also, Trump chose goofy Rudy Giuliani as his (unpaid) personal attorney, telling him to get the job done vis-a-vis Ukraine.
But the wise Founding Fathers came up with the idea of a Senate trial after a House impeachment so Trump will get a chance to explain why asking foreign nations to get involved in our elections is not illegal but brilliant, similar to his argument that only stupid people pay taxes. Thankfully, the trial will be presided over by Chief Justice John Roberts, not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose motto is “Trump’s my guy. Get over it.”
Does being impeached mean Trump magically disappears from our lives?
No, sadly, it does not. No president has been kicked out of the White House. For example, Bill Clinton was impeached by the House, but the Senate, along party lines, couldn’t quite get up the nerve to remove him for lying about an affair with an intern.
It is unlikely that sufficient Senate Republicans would suddenly grow backbones and become aghast enough at Trump’s actions to provide the two-thirds votes necessary for removal.
Is impeachment going to go on for the rest of our lives?
Hmmm. Probably not. The Democrats are actually, for Democrats, moving rather fast, collecting testimony from knowledgeable civil servants about what Trump wanted Ukraine to do for him in what he insists was not a quid pro quo in exchange for military aid. The House might vote in a matter of weeks. Well, perhaps months.
Is impeachment going to involve Trump’s ethnic cleansing against 70,000 Kurdish children and giving their homeland to the Turks and Russians? Separating Hispanic children from their parents? Praising white supremacists? Deepening the racial divide? Worsening climate change? Refusing to show his tax returns? Starting trade wars? Being bosom buddies with the world’s most murderous dictators? Lying more than 13,000 times? Being coarse and vulgar?
No. Trump apparently is free under the Constitution to do all those things and many more actions that previous presidents would have been horrified to even contemplate. He also has shown that he can boast with impunity about defying convention and commonly accepted morality, including publicly swearing, as his base goes wild with approval.
Democrats are pursuing impeachment now because there is solid evidence — and public admissions by the White House and Trump — of an illegal abuse of power by pressuring Ukraine to help him gain re-election in exchange for a meeting and money.
(However, Trump was gently persuaded by usually admiring Republicans not to host the G-7 summit at his golf club in steamy Miami next summer. Said Republicans noted this would not be the “most beautiful, perfect and accessible” venue ever but rather an illegal violation of the Constitution forbidding presidents from benefitting financially from foreigners.)
Does impeachment require proof of a criminal act?
Are we ever going to get rid of Trump?
Probably only if we vote him out of office in 2020 — if Democrats can agree on a viable candidate.
But we have to hope cable news won’t keep Trump around fearing we would stop watching with our hearts in our throats if we had a respectful, thoughtful, decent, moral, competent and unimpeached president.
Imagine! We might be able to get on with our lives.
— Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.