Impeachment has become the hot button issue of this political cycle. From the start of Donald Trump’s presidency, calls for impeachment have been continuous, starting with the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, a violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause, the obstruction of justice during the Mueller probe, and most recently, the scandal involving Ukraine.
Up to the release of the Mueller Report in April, it seemed that the report might provide damning evidence that would eventually topple the Trump administration. However, the special counsel’s report largely resulted in victories for the president, despite questions remaining unanswered about accounts of obstruction of justice. The testimony of Special Counsel Mueller lacked any watershed moments for either impeachment proponents or detractors. For a moment, despite consistent lawlessness by the president, including many accounts of actions taken to obstruct justice and profiteering off of the presidency, it seemed as if impeachment may be dead. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had, for months, held her caucus back from full-fledged support of an impeachment inquiry. Then, in September, a whistleblower’s complaints of potential corruption threw the impeachment inquiry into a tailspin.
Now, a month later, the nation finds itself deep in an active impeachment inquiry into President Trump, dominating the political conversation. The public is still divided on the issue: according to 538’s polling amalgamation, a slim majority of the American public support impeachment (50.1% support, while 43.8% don’t support). Democrats now seem relatively united on the issue, with 84.7% of those registered as Democrats supporting impeachment (only 12.6% of Republicans do), and all three of the presidential frontrunners restated their positions in support of impeachment in the debate Tuesday. Now, the Democratic Party must move forward with proceedings hastily and decisively if they wish to save our democracy as we know it.
Strong takes like this one are plentiful, but when one looks at the evidence and the way that the president has handled the impeachment probe thus far, one cannot help but imagine what he may do next if the country fails to stop him. In the case of the Ukraine scandal, the president of the United States is publicly and openly calling on the foreign governments of Ukraine and China to help uncover dirt on a political rival. The president has knowingly and enthusiastically called for foreign interference in our public elections for political gain. Even worse, in the case of Ukraine, Trump has put his personal political ambition ahead of national security interests by implicitly threatening to withhold aid from an important ally without their cooperation in his political games.
In recent weeks, Trump has called for the impeachment of his own political rivals with absolutely no grounds and has refused to comply with Democrats’ subpoena power in the House. The administration's utter lack of deference to any Constitutional norms has been shocking and scary from a president who already consistently breaks the law. By refusing to comply with the inquiry, the administration threatens the delicate balance of the coequal government that has taken three and a half centuries to construct.
Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised by any of this. The nation saw that then-candidate Trump cared more about his politics than national security when he called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s email; we continually see this self-interest as Trump goes out of the way to stay at his own properties to enrich himself while in office. This self-interest was apparent when the president fired James Comey because of his handling of the Russia investigation. And yet, we did nothing.
If this trend continues, Trump’s lawlessness will only continue to intensify, and the country will only continue to deteriorate. Now is the moment that Congress has the opportunity to act; that action, however, will ultimately require bi-partisan support. It will take political courage from Republican senators—courage that thus far has been lacking—in order to remove the president from office.
The people do have the power to remove this existential threat from the oval office, but it will take loud, powerful voices and excellent grassroots organizing. This is our chance to be on the right side of history.