Editorial: Voters now hold Trump’s fate
On to November and the presidential election. That’s when and where President Donald Trump’s fate will be decided. And it will be the American people who make the decision.
There should never have been any doubt about their opportunity to do so.
Democrats launched the impeachment of Trump out of pure partisan motivation, seeking a guarantee that voters would not be able to return him to office. Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the Democrat who led the House impeachment process, said as much on the Senate floor during Trump’s trial.
That trial concluded Wednesday with the acquittal of the president, bringing to an end one of the more opportunistic episodes in Congress’ history. Trump became the third president to be impeached, and the third to be acquitted of the charges brought against him.
Like Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson before him, there was little doubt that Trump committed the offenses for which he was charged — in his case, seeking to prod the Ukrainians to investigate the son of his political rival and former vice president, Joe Biden, in exchange for the release of military aid.
But once again the Senate lived up to its constitutional role as a deliberative body aloof from momentary passions and kept a duly-elected president in place for the people to judge.
This process was never about removing Trump from office — Democrats knew that wasn't going to happen. They used impeachment as a political tool to influence the 2020 presidential election.
In doing so, they set an extremely dangerous precedent. There will again be periods when the White House is occupied one party and the House by the other. The fear now is that in such situations impeachment will become routine.
While Democrats have from the beginning of his administration cast Trump as a threat to the Constitution, the real jeopardy comes in their “by-any-means-necessary” zeal to derail his presidency. Impeachment was the ultimate goal of the resistance movement.
Having failed to get what they wanted from the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian collusion in the 2016 election, Democrats seized on the Ukrainian episode as their last, best hope to realize their ambitions before the 2020 balloting.
The Founders never intended impeachment to be a partisan weapon. It was envisioned as a means for removing a president when there was broad, bipartisan consensus that he presented a danger to the country. That was true in 1974 when Republicans joined Democrats in the impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon, who resigned before they were completed.
In this case, neither the well-being nor the security of the Republic was at risk. The nation surely will survive until next Jan. 20.
Detesting a president’s personality, behavior and policies is not a cause for tossing him out ahead of an election.
Whether this politically tainted endeavor accomplishes the Democratic goal will be revealed at the ballot box in November, although it seems to have had little effect on public attitudes. At the end of weeks of daily impeachment drama, Trump's approval rating with the American people is about where it was when the proceedings began.
Voters will have an opportunity to boot Trump this fall or keep him. And that’s the right guaranteed them by the Constitution.