President Trump’s acquittal was best for our country, for the Constitution and for Congress itself. Ironically, it may also secure the president’s re-election this fall.
As this unfolds, it is worth recalling official Washington likely nudged Donald Trump into the winner’s circle when then-FBI Director James Comey reopened the investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 missing emails just days before the 2016 election. If further political machinations in the nation’s Capital secured a second term for the unconventional president despised by so many Washingtonians, it would be rich irony indeed.
Stung by Trump’s win, Washington Democrats commenced an investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Two years and $32 million later, Mueller found no collusion between Trump or his campaign with foreign governments. After that investigation collapsed, the House Democrats on a party-line vote impeached the president, forcing the Senate to try him on two articles of impeachment. Those poorly conceived and articulated charges, turned down by the Senate on Feb. 5, boosted the president and his party’s standing in the polls just as the Democrats bungled the first presidential nominating contest in Iowa.
Whether such harassment continues to the president’s benefit, acquittal was the right outcome for the country. The voters’ decision 40 months ago should not be overturned eight months before the next election absent dramatic, incontrovertible, egregious violations of law or public trust. An ill-advised phone call with a world leader with ambiguous overtones is no such event. Taking the drastic step of removing the president and disenfranchising 63 million voters is never good, but it would be especially harmful on such thin charges in an era of deep distrust on the eve of new elections.
The acquittal was also good for the Constitution. Had the Senate removed the president, it would have shifted our form of government from three equal branches to a parliamentary system. In the latter, power resides in the legislature (typically called parliament) from which the majority party or coalition drafts leaders to carry out its policies as the head of the government or executive branch. If there is a policy difference, “governments” are dissolved in no confidence votes.
Congress, too, benefits long term from the Senate’s acquittal of the president. It was a partisan impeachment, drawing only one GOP vote from nearly 1,100 individual legislator votes in both the House and Senate. The House also did not follow past precedents on what the lawyers call due process, essentially sacrificing fairness for speed, thereby denying the judiciary its role in refereeing the dispute. This set up a dynamic of “guilty until proven innocent,” a refrain I heard repeatedly in the several hours I observed the impeachment trial from the gallery in the U.S. Senate chambers. The institution’s stature was harmed but not ruined.
The House dripped with sanctimonious condemnation of the president throughout its prosecution. How contrarian it would be to look back on election night 2020 and conclude those arguments backfired, offered by hypocritical politicians rather than patrician prosecutors, assuring Donald Trump a second term. Perhaps voters will deprive Democrats of a House majority to prevent future, even serial impeachments. The electorate may even strengthen the GOP majority in the Senate as a further rebuke of the permanent, investigative state that has spent its time and our money trying to overturn the results of the 2016 election, rather than moving forward to address the nation’s many needs and opportunities.
Is all this poisoned politics preventing a lack of positive progress? The trend lines and this columnist say “yes.” But we will not know with certainty until Nov. 3.•
Smith is chairman of the Indiana Family Institute and author of “Deicide: Why Eliminating The Deity is Destroying America.” Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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