Editorial: Pelosi jumped gun on impeachment probe

The Detroit News
President Donald Trump tours a section of the southern border wall, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Otay Mesa, Calif.

The American people deserve to see the evidence regarding what allegedly transpired between President Donald Trump and the Ukrainian president. Yet before the facts were known, Congress officially pursued an impeachment probe. And that’s alarming. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally succumbed to pressure from fellow Democrats —many of them freshman members — and announced Tuesday she’d allow the inquiry to proceed. This is only the fourth time in U.S. history that a formal impeachment inquiry has been brought against a president. It’s extremely serious. 

Pelosi acted on unverified accusations made public by second-hand sources, choosing not to wait for the Trump administration to release the transcript of the July phone call in question, which it did Wednesday morning. Congress has not seen the full whistleblower report that alleges Trump attempted to pressure Ukraine into investigating allegations that Joe Biden used threats to quash an investigation by that country into his son Hunter’s business dealings there.

The hasty nature of Pelosi’s decision speaks volumes. 

Thomas Jipping, deputy director of the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, says the House majority would have more credibility if it had put the facts first.

“To claim with a straight face that you aren’t engaging in partisan politics when you take this grave step while admitting you don’t know the facts doesn’t pass the stink test,” Jipping says. “They’ve put the cart before the horse. Impeachment is a conclusion word.”

So while the Democrats may opine about preserving democracy and defending the Constitution, by jumping the gun on the impeachment inquiry House leadership has made it clear this move was largely political. 

Even more moderate members of the Democratic caucus, such as Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, have made the call to support impeachment. 

In a tweet, Slotkin said: “I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. If true, these new allegations against the President are a threat to our national security, and constitute an impeachable offense.”

Congress will now look into whether Trump abused his office by encouraging the Ukrainian government to investigate Democratic presidential contender Biden and his son. 

Some sense of fairness should prevail. The House is obliged to look into allegations that Biden, as vice president, bullied the Ukrainians into firing a prosecutor who was investigating a company Hunter Biden was associated with. What Biden is accused of doing sounds not much different than what Trump is alleged to have done.

In the partial transcript of the call, Trump openly asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to work with U.S. officials, including Rudy Giuliani and the U.S. attorney general.

“I would like for you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it,” Trump said to Zelensky. "I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine."

Just a few days prior to the call, Trump confirmed that he ordered the freezing of nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine.

This was a really dumb thing for Trump to do — it looks bad. 

But until the public has all the facts, and fully understands what happened and why, it is too early to pronounce judgment. 

Congress should have waited, too.