Sunday Sermon: What Impeachment Is All About

When you distill them down to their essence, this is what the impeachment hearings are about (boldface mine):

The president sets foreign policy, after all, and perhaps he didn’t want to send lethal aid to Ukraine. The president’s vocal anti-anti-Trump defenders on the left suggest that perhaps Trump was bucking the bipartisan tradition of Washington imperialism. Maybe Trump was genuinely concerned about corruption. A kernel of truth—that people can reasonably disagree about whether the U.S. should be involved in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine—becomes the basis for sweeping dismissal of presidential wrongdoing.

All of these arguments, ranging from the weak to the false, obscure the core reason for the impeachment inquiry, which is that the Trump administration was engaged in a conspiracy against American democracy. Fearing that the 2016 election was a fluke in which Trump prevailed only because of a successful Russian hacking and disinformation campaign, and a last-minute intervention on Trump’s behalf by the very national-security state Trump defenders supposedly loathe, Trump and his advisers sought to rig the 2020 election by forcing a foreign country to implicate the then-Democratic front-runner in a crime that did not take place. If the American people could not be trusted to choose Trump on their own, Trump would use his official powers to make the choice for them.

It was, in short, a conspiracy by Trump and his advisers to keep themselves in power, the exact scenario for which the Framers of the Constitution devised the impeachment clause. This scheme was carried out by Trump-appointed officials, and by the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, running a corrupt back channel aimed at, in his words, “meddling in an investigation.” And it came very close to succeeding. As Brian Beutler writes, “Had the whole scheme not come to light in a whistleblower complaint, and Trump not released his hold on aid to Ukraine, we might have awaken [sic] one morning to a blaring CNN exclusive about international corruption allegations against the Democratic presidential frontrunner and his party.”

The Republican arguments that this is about foreign policy are specious:

A president who was genuinely opposed to U.S. entanglement in Ukraine, concerned about corruption, or involved in an internal struggle with bureaucrats over the ideal policy toward Ukraine would not have released the aid, because those concerns would have remained unaddressed. A president defying the bipartisan war lobby, seeking to prevent U.S. aid from being misused, or seeking to develop a better Ukraine policy would have had no reason to be concerned by the complaint.

It really shouldn’t surprise anyone that Trump ordered this and the kind of people he surrounds himself with were willing to carry out those orders. Nor should it be surprising, faced with this overwhelming evidence of illegality (and with so many other less investigated cases–thanks for nothing Richard Neal!), Republicans are still lining up behind him.

The only shock I have left is that much of the political press corps, along with editorial boards, aren’t explicitly calling for Trump’s resignation–they did so for Clinton.

I kid. It’s not shocking at all: IOKIYAR.

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