Editorial: Democrats trump up impeachment case
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the nation Thursday morning that she is authorizing the drafting of articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to save the nation.
"Our democracy is what is at stake," the California Democrat said, adding that she takes the action with "sadness but with confidence and humility."
The claim is disingenuous. Democrats have been pushing for impeachment since the moment Donald Trump was elected in 2016. Pelosi's announcement is the fulfillment of her party's top agenda item since taking control of the House at the start of this year.
The impeachment hearings over the past few weeks in the House Intelligence Committee and now in the Judicial Committee have failed to produce ironclad evidence that Trump committed an impeachable offense, nor have they changed many minds on whether the president should stay or go.
Certainly, Trump exercised poor judgment and crossed ethical lines in asking Ukraine to investigate the questionable appointment of former vice president Joe Biden's son, Hunter, to a lucrative board position with a corrupt Ukrainian company and hinting military aid might depend on its compliance.
It was improper, and dumb, and might merit a congressional censure of Trump, as we've recommended. But the impeachment hearings have not proved that Trump received the personal benefit he is accused of seeking — the investigation never happened and Ukraine got its military aid anyway.
Pelosi, in her announcement, cast Trump as the manifestation of the Founders' worst nightmare, a president who would be king. It's a Democratic talking point picked up by one of the law professors the Judicial Committee heard from Wednesday in opining that Trump's royal ambitions motivated the naming of his youngest son, Baron.
Trump has done some foolish things as president. He has pushed wrong-headed policies on everything from immigration to trade. And his personal behavior has been despicable.
But he has not exercised his presidential powers in an extra-constitutional manner. His use of his authority is consistent with that of his immediate predecessors, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who also preferred executive orders to avoid dealing with Congress.
When Trump's policy overreaches have been checked by the courts, he has stood down.
His continued presence in the Oval Office does not endanger our national foundation, as Pelosi contends.
If the democracy confronts a danger, its just as likely to come from the embrace by Democrats of an end-justifies-the-means approach to toppling a president they loathe.
Witness Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff's use of secret subpoenas to capture the telephone records of Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, reporter John Solomon and others, and then making the records public. The Wall Street Journal rightly called it an abuse of the government's surveillance powers for political gain. It's also an affront to press freedom.
Pelosi's statement sets up the inevitable impeachment vote, which will likely come by year's end.
The case against Trump will then go to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it will die, and not just because GOP senators will indulge in the same sort of partisanship in killing it that House Democrats did in sending it forward.
The House simply has not made a definitive case that it is in the nation's best interest to deny the American people the chance to decide for themselves — in just 11 months — whether Donald Trump is fit for office.