Are the Democrats correct to be pursuing articles of impeachment against President Trump?
Our founders were clear: The Constitution only calls for impeachment after “high crimes and misdemeanors” have been conducted. President Trump has not committed anything of the sort. But Democrats are pursuing impeachment anyway, searching for something—anything—to damage him.
First, let’s take a step back. How did we get here? Back in September, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the U.S. House would begin an impeachment inquiry based on a rumor a whistleblower heard secondhand. The rumor was that President Trump threatened to withhold critical aid to Ukraine in exchange for dirt on his political opponents.
The Trump administration promptly responded by being as transparent as possible. The White House released the English transcript of the phone call (the Ukrainian president spoke in Ukrainian and President Trump spoke in English), which is available for anyone at any time to read online. The transcript revealed the president’s innocence. There was no threat, no shakedown, and no mention of the upcoming election. Only an amicable conversation between two world leaders.
In reality, President Trump sent aid to Ukraine. The Trump administration has delivered lethal aid to Ukraine ever since his inauguration began in 2017. (Ironically, when Ukraine was being invaded by Russia in 2014, the Obama administration never sent lethal aid, instead sending blankets and food to repel Russian tanks.)
Rather than admit her mistake, Speaker Pelosi has charged full steam ahead, setting aside legislative business and granting House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff power to hold secret hearings in the basement of the Capitol complex. Her decision to halt legislative productivity is politically perilous—Americans desperately want bipartisan legislation on lowering drug costs and to replace NAFTA with the much-improved United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Pelosi is opting to pursue partisan impeachment instead of passing popular bipartisan legislation that will move our country forward.
Even worse, she’s losing the support of her caucus. Last week, she whipped her caucus on a vote to formalize the impeachment inquiry, and the final vote count was very revealing. While every Republican member voted against the inquiry resolution, two Democrats defected and split ranks. What that shows us is that Pelosi hasn’t even convinced members of her own caucus—a caucus she wields enormous power over—impeachment is worth pursuing.
But Pelosi’s relentless pursuit of impeachment is not a surprise. Democrats have been forthcoming that they’ve wanted to impeach the president long before this errant whistleblower complaint. The first Democrat representative to call for impeachment did so in May 2017. On the night new members were sworn in for the 116th Congress, another Democratic representative said she came to Washington to “impeach the motherf***er.” Probably the most revealing example: Before we learned the conclusions of the Mueller report, Rep. Schiff said he would be ready to impeach Trump even if the Russia probe cleared him.
It’s too bad Speaker Pelosi, Rep. Adam Schiff and others don’t like the president. But there are plenty of Americans who proudly cast their vote for Trump, and he won in a free and fair election. Not liking someone isn’t a reason to impeach and overturn election results.
We are one year away from an election. On Election Day 2020, the American people can speak for themselves. Why would we take that away from the American people and go through the impeachment process instead? Unless, of course, the purpose of impeachment is to hurt a sitting president ahead of his re-election bid.•
Rep. Jim Banks, a Republican, represents Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House.Send comments to email@example.com.
Click here for more Forefront columns.